Applying for jobs can be a frustrating process, particularly if you are applying for a stack of jobs and not getting an interview, or worse...not hearing anything back. If it is any consolation, it is a common occurrence and many candidates feel your frustration.
Unfortunately having a well-written resume is not a guarantee to successfully getting an interview. Coupled with a very competitive candidate market where you could be up against hundreds of other applicants, understanding why your resume is getting ignored is the first step to getting noticed.
Organisations are increasingly relying on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help them screen candidates. ATS is a software application used to rank candidates in order of suitability for each role. The software automatically sorts and scans resumes putting them in order of most suitable candidate for a role, to least suitable. Understanding what the ATS is looking for and why your resume is being overlooked is helpful to ensure you are ranking highly and not being deemed "unsuitable" before your resume has even reached human eyes.
5 ways to make sure your resume gets through the ATS.
Getting past the ATS is a lot easier than you might think. The key is to create an ATS-friendly resume that is easy to read for the bots. Lets face it, if it is easier to read for the bots, it is probably easier to read for the hiring manager too, so it is a win-win.
1. Don't use pictures or icons: a resume is not a place for your picture. It is also not the place for icons or logos. Leave those to LinkedIn as ATS can get messed up if you include them in your resume.
2. Don't use tables or columns: tables and columns are a big no-no. ATS really don't like them. You can create a similar look and feel by using tabs which is a much safer option.
3. Don't have important information in the header or footer: ATS will overlook all information in your header and footer. So don't put any important information in them that you want scanned by the ATS.
4. Don't save your resume as a PDF: whilst Word documents don't always look as polished as PDF, some ATS won't read PDF format. So, best to stick with Word for your resume.
5. Include keywords from the job description in your resume: keywords are critical to the recruitment process. ATS will search for keywords within your resume and that will be a key factor in how you are ranked against other candidates. The more you have the better you will rank. You can find keywords on the job ad and you should use the same language as the recruiter has. So if they have said they are looking for a candidate with "strong problem solving skills" make sure your resume has the exact same words. Oh, but only include them if it is true. You will come unstuck if you lie on your resume once you are in an interview!
These five tricks will help ensure your resume isn't disregarded by the robots and impact your overall ranking against other candidates. No two ATS are exactly the same, so you need to do what you can to cater to the majority of them. These tips will also not impact the appeal of your resume to a human eye, so once it gets through the initial ATS scan, you are on your way to getting an interview...and your dream job!