Many jobseekers these days are now aware that employers use keyword scanning software (Applicant Tracking Systems) to filter applicant resumes. 80% of large companies use some form of this software.
When employers are receiving hundreds, if not thousands of applications for some roles, it makes sense to have a system to sort the wheat from the chaff. You know that you’re the wheat (!), but how do you ensure that your prospective employer gets an opportunity to realise that too? The answer is by using relevant keywords in your resume, to get through ATS effectively.
What is an Applicant Tracking System?
An Applicant Tacking System allows recruiters to input keywords relevant to the role they are hiring for, and the ATS then automatically scans resumes as they come in, searching for these keywords. The ATS then highlights those resumes that include the relevant keywords for further review by the recruiter - and restricts those that don’t from even being seen (I know - after all that work you put into selecting just the right font!). So, it’s a no-brainer that you need to make sure your resume is ATS-friendly. But how?
Adapt Your Resume to the Role You’re Applying For
Many people have a varied work history, often going between different industries as well as employers. It is recommended that you adapt any resume before submitting it to ensure that it is reflective of the role you are going for. This sometimes means omitting (or condensing) some information, such as irrelevant qualifications or work history, as well as adding or elaborating on relevant information. The aim is to maximise your chances of being ‘matched’ by the ATS to the role you’re targeting.
Use Keywords Effectively
The good news is that job ads offer clues as to what keywords to use. If the job is advertising for ‘Experienced Underground Electricians’ – you should emphasise your underground experience specifically within your resume. Likewise, if the role calls for supervisory experience, utilise ‘supervisory’ in your resume, rather than ‘leadership’ for instance, which, while similar in meaning, may not be picked up by the ATS. A word of caution, though – be mindful of ‘keyword stuffing’ – modern ATS are clever - they are able to pick up when you might be trying to fool the system – like most things in life, moderation is key.
Use Standard Resume Formats and Fonts
ATS prefer standard fonts with predictable resume sections (e.g. personal details, skills, professional experience, qualifications and referees), which they can scan easily. Lose the fancy graphics and fonts, which may actually negatively impact on your chances of success if it makes it harder for an ATS to read it. Likewise, lose any tables which may make your document easier for a human to read but makes the job of an ATS more difficult.
Do you want to check whether your resume meets will pass through an ATS? Try this free tool.