In last week’s blog, I explained some of the myths and realities of Applicant Tracking Systems. Now it’s time to discuss how to raise the chances that your resume will be selected by the ATS and be read by a member of the Human Resources department, a hiring manager, or a recruiter.
The first and most important step to take is to conform to ATS requirements, starting with full contact information at the head of the page. Many ATS will select candidates only from the local area, and many will eliminate applicants who do not enter zip codes at least. I recommend candidates get a local address to apply for jobs online if they are not looking to be reimbursed for relocation expenses.
Use standard header names for each section: For the summary section at the beginning of the resume, use the words Professional Profile or Summary. Include the job title and keywords from the announcement and add a skill list if you want. Just be sure that the summary is readable by humans as well. Of course, that’s true for the entire resume.
For your experience list, use the Professional Experience heading. Use a reverse chronological format. You may want to add the word company after each company name. Enter in dates, including month and year. Enter the company’s city and state. Write job descriptions and accomplishments with keywords and phrases from the announcement. Repeat the keywords as you describe each position to make the resume score higher and show the depth of experience.
Spell out acronyms the first time you use them and put the acronym in parentheses following the full definition; for example, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Thereafter, you can use just the acronym.
In the education section, use Education as your heading. Type the full name and abbreviation for each degree, major, school name, and location. Consider adding degree dates, grade point average (if recent and if high or relatively high), and honors (if any). Consider adding a course list to include even more keywords.
Other standard headings you should use if needed are Training, Certifications, and Skills.
Ensure both humans and the ATS can read your resume. Candidates have limited control how a resume will be used. In addition, in many cases the resume that is read by the ATS is still stored in its original form in the ATS. The hiring manager may access that resume rather than the mangled ATS format to read it.
Be careful with formatting and capitalization. Check the resume for grammar and spelling. Avoid using fancy characters, graphics, and tables. Modify the resume, as appropriate, for each job application.
Select the right job announcement. Use the job boards and/or network to find job announcements where you meet all the basic and most of the desired requirements and where you have experience in most of the job duties. In the U.S., many companies cannot hire a candidate for a job if they do not meet the advertised job requirements. You have the best chance to be selected for a job if you can address the job requirements and the job duties. If there is a questionnaire, you must be able to indicate that you expert in all the areas in the questionnaire and then justify your answers in your resumes.
Find keywords and keyword phrases and use them in your resume. Read job announcements and select keywords and keyword phrases in the announcement, even those that may not make sense. If the ATS is using an automatic selection algorithm, those keywords and phrases will, most likely, be included in the announcement. To identify keywords that are not in the announcement but are likely in the ATS, analyze a group of announcements. Or work with a resume writer who has access to online tools such as Bright.com to find keywords by profession.
The preponderance of Applicant Tracking Systems can make it challenging to create a resume that will actually work. Yet, over and over again, Robin’s Resumes™ has helped job applicants rise to the top of ATS findings. Contact us today.