The ATS friendly resume isn’t some mystery to solve. Knowing the fundamentals goes a long way in the ever changing world of resume writing and electronic resume scanning tech. But here’s a basic problem with online applications… you’re applying online but you aren’t getting any feedback.
We know the feeling.
There’s a million reasons why companies don’t respond back promptly to online job applications. But one mistake we see time and time again has to do with HOW jobseekers submit their resumes. It maybe that your resume may not be read correctly by electronic resume scanners.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Are you adding funky graphics or data tables?
- Are you using fonts that aren’t clearly legible?
- Are you writing the resume with the right wording?
- Are you using pictures like headshots?
These details count because of how applicant tracking systems work.
If you haven’t heard of the applicant tracking system before, grab pencil and paper because we’re about to cover ATS 101!
So what is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?
Woo boy, this is a big one. So the ATS is a type of software that scans resumes and selects candidates. There are several types of ATS but they all do the same thing. Whenever you send off resumes on LinkedIN, Indeed or Monster.com, there’s a good chance an ATS will scan your resume. Companies large and small are using electronic software to help with the workflow of evaluating applications.
There’s really no escaping this software nowadays.
Why is ATS popular with companies?
Companies need to sift through VOLUMES of applications. When companies are looking for new talent, they receive hundreds if not thousands of applicants. Thousands of applicants mean thousands of resumes. Imagine having to go through digital piles of resumes which grow everyday. To expedite the process, companies use special software to narrow the field so to speak. Those thousands of resumes become reduced to hundreds, then dozens, and finally a handful of worthy candidates.
It’s like American Idol meets the Hunger Games. And every judge is somehow both President Snow AND Simon Cowell.
May the odds ever be in your favor.
So how does the ATS choose the right candidates?
With a point system based on certain criteria. ATS use mainly use criteria like keywords or skills on a resume. But softer metrics like former employers, years of experience and schools attended are also used. When the software scans these resumes, there’s a grading system that’s used. Resumes that have the right criteria will pass the test.
Let’s break this down.
For example, imagine there’s a job listing that requires 3 or more years of content production and graph”ic design with Adobe or Canva. The resumes that explicitly state “3 years of graphic design with Canva” will rate higher than resumes that state “1-2 years of design experience”. Resumes with the same keywords will match what the ATS is looking for.
So what do you do about this?
Welp, if you’re familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and blogging then you can apply that broader mindset to your resume. In other words, you’ll have to use the literal words in the job listing inside your resume. Adjusting most resumes you send off will help. Trust us. The ATS will rate your resume higher based on the matches of words and key phrases it’s looking for.
We think of it as REO (Resume Engine Optimization).
So what does this look like in practice?
If the job you’re applying for says “content production and blogging with wordpress”, then you might want to ask yourself “Do I have content production or blogging experience?” If yes, PUT THOSE EXACT WORDS ON YOUR RESUME. You want to align the wording on your resume as close as possible to the wording on the job listing. Those keywords “content production”, “blogging” and “wordpress” are keywords you NEED TO USE.
Be honest with your experience (please don’t lie) and find a way to sincerely interpret your history within what the job listing is asking for.
We know that adjusting your resume will take another 10-20 minutes but we think you’re worth that extra time. 😉
What other ATS friendly resume tips improve your resume ranking?
No pics. Not even your best selfie. Pictures look great visually and you can put a great headshot on your blog, personal website or where ever actual human eyes will see it. It hurts to hear that, we know. You dropped some bucks down on that beautiful headshot with the perfect lighting but ATS friendly resumes aren’t about beauty. ATS friendly resumes are about data. Information is money to the ATS so stuff your resume with as much detail as possible.
Also, since ATS are text readers save your resume as a pdf or .docx.
So to review…
The ATS friendly resume tips are…
- study the job listing and look for keywords/phrasing
- Then apply those keywords to your resume
- No pics
- Save as a pdf or .docx
These tips are the ATS basics! As technology around resume scanners change, we’re confident that the fundamentals are evergreen. Have question about a subject we haven’t answered yet? Send us your questions about job hunting, resume/cover letter writing and interviewing on our social media pages or on our contact page! We just might answer directly on our new “Ask Jessica” series where we cover all things job hunting related.
As former jobseekers ourselves, we know that just GETTING to the interview is a feat in itself. As professional job recruiters, we know how to get ahead of a crowded field (and we know a thing or two about a crowded field). Keep in mind that these tips aren’t slam dunks. There’s no 1 tip that’s going to be your ace-in-the-hole. Every article we post is a thread in a larger job searching web. Heck, you might even say that you’re building your ROUTE to a fulfilling career ;).
As Will Smith once said,
“If you stay ready, you aint gotta get ready”
Also feel free to download our ATS friendly resume info graphic!