I work with a lot of great applicants who constantly submit resumes online, but are not getting interviews. When this happens, I often ask, “Do you know what ATS is? Are you submitting ATS friendly resumes?”
Do you know what an ATS is? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! When you apply for a position online, your resume and application materials are probably getting through to a hiring manager.
If the answer is no, there’s still hope! This post will explain what an ATS is and why it’s SO important during your job search.
ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. It is computer software that helps hiring managers, recruiters, and other Human Resources personnel sort through job candidates to find the best fit for their company. Unfortunately, job seekers who are unfamiliar with ATS often submit their standard resumes online–often resulting in them being tossed out of the candidate pool.
So, how do you make YOUR resume ATS friendly? With these quick tips:
1. Do not create your resume using a template! Using a template you found on Microsoft Word may get your resume thrown out before any of the other tips can be utilized. Though unseen by us, templates are often filled with characters that don’t jive well with ATS software.
2. Use keywords. Go over the job description with a fine tooth comb and insert keywords from the description anywhere you can (and anywhere that makes sense!). If the hiring managers are looking for candidates who have Java coding experience, are team players, and have 3 years’ experience, make sure to put your Java coding experience under a header such as “Skills” and create an objective statement in which you write something like “I am a team player with five years experience in the computer programming industry.” Keywords are the language used in the job description and will be what an ATS is looking for when searching resumes.
3. Watch your formatting. Often, I tell my students to create more “grown up” resumes by using terms like “Professional Experience” and “Community Involvement” instead of “Employment History” and “Volunteer Work.” I believe this advice still holds up when handing out resumes at career fairs or job interviews. For ATS purposes, however, use simple headings such as “Work Experience” and “Education.” ATS software is designed to seek out keywords that are important to the position and look for simpler headings. When submitting resumes online, use simple formatting with standard fonts such as Times New Roman. Also, avoid using tables, charts, graphs or anything other than standard bullet points.
4. Always assume your resume is being reviewed by ATS software. How will you know if a human being is going through resumes instead of ATS software? You won’t. If you are submitting your resume online, it is always best to assume that your resume has to make it through ATS software before being seen by an actual person.
5. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Make your resume as easy to find as possible by saving it under a name such as “FirstName_LastName_JobTitle” instead of “Jill’s Res.” Additionally, save your resume as a .doc instead of a .pdf. .Docs are easily read by ATS software, whereas .pdf’s are often more difficult.
A few easy resume tweaks may mean the difference between getting an interview or having your resume tossed in the (cyber) trash.