Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Get Your Resume Past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

By Frances Chaves

If you apply for a position with a large company, your resume will probably be scanned electronically by an Applicant Tracking System or ATS. According to one ATS company, 75 percent of all resumes submitted do not make it past the screening, no matter how qualified the candidate may be. What can you do to make sure that your resume makes it past the ATS and into the hands of the recruiter or hiring manager?

ATS systems work by scanning your resume, removing styling and parsing or breaking down the text into recognized strings of characters for further analysis. The parser reorganizes pieces of the resume into categories such as education, contact information, skills, and work experience. The program then assigns a value on a scale of 0 to 100, depending on the frequency of keywords from the original job description and your years of experience. The parser then sends your score and the condensed version of your resume to the recruiter or human resources officer. If you get a high enough score, you will probably be invited to an interview. For a reproduction of the ATS report sent to the recruiter/HR, go to:

In the past, ATS systems counted keywords. Now the technology is more sophisticated. Loading up your resume with keywords is no longer enough to ensure a high score. Today’s ATS systems look for semantic matches. These are terms related to the keywords contextually and conceptually.

Here are some ways to get a higher score for your resume:

Resume Content

• Include the same words from the job description in your resume, including job title, description headlines, words used more than twice, and those used to describe the criteria for success in the position.
• Include secondary resume keywords, such as the hiring company’s competitors or experience you have with similar or competitive brands.

Resume format
• Never send your resume as a PDF because ATS systems lack a standard way to structure PDF documents.
• Do not use background images or photos which can block the ATS and make your resume unreadable.
• Use bulleted lists, not paragraphs which are harder for the ATS to decipher.

Read more on these two areas and the complete article

**  I feel the formatting is the most important part as I see too many resumes that come into the different ATSs that are unreadable.  It won't matter how well you choose your content if the system can't read it.

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