Amelia is a guest writer to my Blog page; she has written an interesting article on the ever prevalent ATS, which is becoming a huge problem for job seekers everywhere. Enjoy the reading.

Essentially, you pour your heart and soul into the perfect resume that you’re sure will be a winner, only to discover that a human never has and never will see it. Like all new technologies, applicant tracking systems are beginning to spread. At the moment, more than half of companies have some variant of the system in place. Though it’s a time saver for the company, it’s a time waster for you, since you are essentially working hard to be pushed aside by a robot. You’re going to have to be smarter than the system if you want to get anywhere and have your resume read by a human recruiter.

1. Format Your Resume Correctly.
Companies will tell you what file format they want to receive resumes in, and it’s your job to follow through. Most popularly, there are the Word and text-only formats, since it is very easy to feed them to the screener.

Conversely, it is quite uncommon for companies to ask for resumes in different formats, such as JPEG or PDF, due to the fact that these formats often pose problems to the screening systems. Therefore, if you don’t want to consciously throw your resume into the void, either follow the submission guidelines provided by the companies or, if possible, don’t electronically submit to those companies.

2. Use All the Right Keywords.
A resume scanning system isn’t as discerning as a human and is therefore set to look for certain buzzwords, such as particular skills. If there are enough of these buzzwords in your resume, it will be handed off to a human. If there aren’t, it’s getting rejected. Here’s where things get tricky: how do you know what these words are, and how do you incorporate them into your resume?

In most cases, the keywords the screening system is searching for are prominent words in the job description. Therefore, it is your task to read over all of the fields. What are the skills, qualifications, and duties listed in the description? What is the exact title of the position? Working these exact words into your resume as thoroughly as possible while at the same time avoiding very creative and vivid descriptions can prevent it from being automatically rejected by a system that doesn’t understand synonyms.

3. Avoid overly decorative resumes.
Although highly decorative resumes, full of tables and logos are often mentioned as a great way of catching the eye of recruiters and letting you stand out from the crowd, they might have quite the opposite effect if screened by the automated robots first.

This is due to the fact that overabundance of graphics, just like inappropriate resume formats, tends to pose a variety of problems during the screening process. As a result, in many cases the overly decorative resumes end up being rejected by the system. It might therefore be a good idea to refrain from beautifying your resume too much, especially if you are sure the screening system will filter it first.

4. Implement SEO Techniques.
If you run a blog or a website, you’re probably familiar with the art of boosting a page in Google’s ranks. Essentially, Google implements an algorithm to find the most relevant results for any search term, and make sure the searcher finds those first. If you’re clever, you can do the same thing with your resume. Use short tail and long tail keywords. Rather than blatant repetition, be sure to use a few variations when you’re reiterating a point. Try to incorporate these words as naturally as possible, so in the event that a human actually does review your resume, it won’t look like a mish-mash of keywords.

5. Bypass The Computer Entirely.
At the end of the day, the best way to make sure your resume doesn’t get tossed through a virtual screening system is to print it out and hand deliver it. Nothing beats the face to face interaction. You’ll get a moment to make a good first impression, and having a face to assign to the resume will make the staff in charge of hiring more likely to remember you. There’s nothing wrong with going the extra mile to be sure that you’re heard, and many companies will appreciate your dedication.

Screening systems aren’t going away any time soon. It’s more likely that they’ll begin to take over because of the convenience they offer to companies. If you can’t beat them, join them. Stay one step ahead and always assume a company has a screening system in place before you submit your resume.

Amelia Wilson is an experienced marketing specialist currently working for Aubiz – the directory for Australian businesses.


Annie Cerone