When applying for a new job, you must have answered questions like What is your skill level with Java on a scale of 1 to 5? or Are you willing to travel to the work location? Well, this is one of the automated steps put up by the recruiting company using the Application Tracking System (ATS) to screen out who would make it further. Today, a Jobscan survey reports that 99% of the Fortune 500 companies use an ATS in their hiring processes.
So, you’ve applied for the dream job. Now it is your turn to wait for the recruiter to mail you the next steps. Before the recruiter’s eyes see your resume, you need to get a good ranking on the ATS. Many job seekers don’t realize that at least 75% of applications get rejected even before they reach human hands for reasons as simple as incorrect resume formatting. An average corporate job opening receives 250 applications. Among these only 4 to 6 applicants make it to the interview. Chances are you are much more qualified than the rest but your resume may have slipped through the ATS algorithm.
As difficult as it may seem, it is no sweat to build an ATS-compliant resume with a few right tactics.
How an ATS works
An ATS is a software used by companies to manage the volume of job applications, rank them based on relevance to the job description, keywords, and the kind of format used. This helps the recruiter filter out resumes that are apt for the job opening in turn making the tedious task of looking at each resume, easier.
Creating an ATS compatible resume
Building an ATS qualifying resume may be the first step towards landing your dream job. Here are some tips and ways to make it through.
1. Use the right keywords:
The ATS performs keyword analysis on your resume. Choose keywords that match the job description of the employer. For example: If the employer job description says – “Data Analyst” – use the same keywords on your CV as well. Avoid tweaking it to “Data Analysis” or even creating a long-tail keyword like “Good at analyzing data”. Remember, it is only a set of codes and thus won’t understand the similarity between the two. Similarly, use full forms and abbreviations together. For instance, write as Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the qualification section.
2. Format the resume document well:
A resume with the .docx format is more compliant and can be navigated smoothly by the ATS. Some older software is still not compatible with .pdf. Chances are that a .pdf file format may be rejected right away or be lowered down on the rank. Employers often share specific instructions regarding file format for the application process. Follow them carefully to get ahead.
3. Follow a simple structure:
Columns and tables may look more presentable to a human recruiter, but when it comes to ATS, it crawls through the document rejecting any kind of sections used. An ATS reads a document from left to right and top to bottom. It is highly recommended to use plain text and clear sentences throughout the resume. Putting in columns and tables may also lead to distortion and ill-formatted files or even loss of a few words in old versions of ATS. Also, refrain from inserting charts or graphics.
4. Avoid over-optimizing:
Stuffing unnecessarily with keywords may initially get you through ATS ranks. But further, when your resume reaches a human recruiter you may end up being rejected for the same. Following good practices of resume writing and focusing on real skills will get you beyond ATS and be vital in landing you the job.
5. Use simple and clear resume headers:
Now that you are aware of the keywords and format for the resume, using the right terms also can get you past the bots. In your section headers, use words that are industry-specific and avoid terms that are overly witty or creative. For instance, it is better to use “Qualifications” and not “What degrees I have” as such phrases may not be recognized by ATS and may bring your ranking down.
6. Customize your resume for each application:
Different employers give out different job descriptions which means the keywords may differ for a similar position in a different company. Make sure you tailor the keywords before uploading your resume for each application.
7. Testing your resume:
Lastly, once you are all geared up to send in your resume, do a final test to see if you missed anything. A number of websites like Jobscan and Topresume offer to test your resume as per the ATS algorithms for free. Use such tools to get a good insight into your resume before applying it on a job portal.
What matters to the ATS and a human recruiter is a great resume. Keeping in account the above-mentioned tips you are sure to impress the recruiter too.
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