We’ve all had our personal struggles applying for jobs. Everyone has been on that side of the curve at one point in their lives. As a recruiting platform, we’d like to give you some insights on the other side of the fence! Hiring secrets you may have learned about back in school but forgot about til now. Have you ever created a well-crafted resume and cover-letter specifically tailored for a job you know you’re qualified for but didn’t even receive a call-back? ATS may be the culprit behind this!
Large organizations may receive hundreds or even thousands of applications when they put up a job posting. ATS or Applicant Tracking Systems help companies pre-filter resumes so that only the top candidates will be seen by human eyes. However, great candidates will also slip through the cracks and not be selected due to these ATS filters. Here’s a list of things you can do to your resume to make sure you make the cut:
Keep It Simple!
ATS systems require simplicity so doing anything to your resume that highlights your creativity or individuality may actually do you more harm than good. Logos, pictures and symbols may confuse the ATS giving you a lower score on their algorithms. Fancy fonts are also a big NO; keep your fonts simple by sticking to basics such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc. Obviously, this isn’t always the case as hiring parties will definitely look at the visual elements of a graphic designer’s resume but stands true for most positions. One suggestion is to have a more intricate physical resume copy for the interview in addition to the simple digital version.
WORD or Rich Text Format
ATS filters are getting better at reading PDFs, but they are still far from perfect and can miss important details. They definitely prefer traditional Word document files, so it would be wise to keep your resume in that format unless specifically told to do so otherwise.
Try to only include the basic sections of the resume such as qualifications, professional experience, education, skills etc. Additional headings like “About Me” or “Hobbies” may actually confuse the ATS. A good way to work around this is to put this information in the “Professional Summary” segment. Highlight your achievements and skills while outlining a few things about your personality; this is also a great area to implement some keywords, which will be mentioned later on. You should also leave headers and footers empty; it can be hard to condense all that information on a page but placing things on the edges may leave them completely unnoticed. It’s good to safely keep a standard one-inch margin all around the page.
ATS filters will scan resumes for certain keywords set by the hiring managers. Look at the job description and include phrases and skills mentioned in your own resume; if they want someone with experience in certain programs like CSS and Photoshop, clearly include those in your resume! However, be sure to mirror the job description text; if the employer wants someone who is efficient with “Microsoft Word”, put “Microsoft Word” not “MS Word” or “Word”. ATS filters are smart but they aren’t that smart. It’s also important to spell out acronyms just in case such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with the acronym in brackets like so.
However, be sure not to overstuff your resume with keywords in every place possible – it will be obvious to both the ATS and human hiring manager. One obvious thing to do regarding keywords is to spell check – spelling errors may terminate your chances completely!
One last tip to get through the ATS filters is some basic human contact. Reach out to someone in the company you’re applying for and tell them you are interested. This will boost your chances as the hiring party may simply search up your name on their database out of curiosity to see if you are qualified and make you pop up among the dozens of “qualified candidates” the ATS has listed.
All of this mostly applies to the bigger companies that get hundreds of applicants for every listing they post. If you’re applying for a smaller startup company that’s less well-known it may be more beneficial to include all the individuality points to make you stand out among the crowd! Everything happens in context.