How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Resume Applicant Tracking Systems

Resume Applicant Tracking SystemsThough submitting resumes online is relatively easy, do you ever wonder what happens to them once you click the submit button? Do companies really read all the resumes one by one until they have the perfect candidate for the job? Like it or not, this doesn’t happen in reality. Instead, typically resumes enter an applicant tracking system (ATS) database. This software is used to analyze and track large volumes of uploaded resumes – and reject most of them.

This black hole can be quite tricky to deal with, especially if you’re competing with hundreds of applicants for a single job. If you want your resume to stand out, here are some tips from Robin Shlinger, owner of Robin’s Resumes, to help you avoid the pitfalls of succumbing to applicant tracking systems:

Use clear sections and common headers in your resume. Make sure all the information listed in your resume is located in the right sections. If not, the ATS won’t even consider your application. Use standard headings like Contact Information, Summary, Professional Experience, Education, Training, Certifications and Skills.

According to Schlinger, it is best to use “Professional Experience” rather than “Work History” or “Experience” alone. Doing this allows you to include the experience you’ve gained while doing relevant volunteer work, for example. Don’t forget to match all the skills and accomplishments listed in your resume with your LinkedIn profile.

For a higher ATS matching score, use keywords and phrases mentioned in the job announcement when describing your experience, skills and accomplishments.

Keep in mind that not all ATS systems are alike. Every ATS system has its own way of sorting data and sizing up resumes. To help you achieve an ATS-friendly resume, keep it simple and don’t use complicated font styles and graphics. Some ATS’s can’t read tables and graphics or even italicized and underlined words.

No need to worry if you think your resume is too pretty to be simplified. You can still use that resume and print it as your hard copy whenever the company asks for it. You can craft a simple version of it when you’re transmitting resumes online.

Don’t assume that networking avoids the ATS black hole. Though it is important to have good connections, many organizations and companies still require all applicants to send their resumes via the ATS. Doing this avoids discrimination issues in the future.

Don’t disregard the importance of networking by optimizing for the ATS. Let’s keep it real: hiring managers and recruiters are more likely to employ a candidate who was referred to them by someone they know and trust. As long as you have an ATS-friendly resume together with a referral from a company insider, you can still receive preferential treatment when applying for the job.

It may be hard to rise to the top when it comes to submitting resumes online. However, there is hope that you can craft an ATS-friendly resume that will get you an interview. As long as your resume has a clear format and the information is easy to understand, you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding the pitfalls of an ATS.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.