If you’ve been applying to jobs online, either directly through a company’s website or on a job board (like ZipRecruiter or Indeed), your resume has probably been reviewed by a robot. This robot, often part of applicant tracking systems (ATS for short), helps a company weed through all the applications they get for their job openings.
Since applicant tracking systems have been proven to save employers time and money when hiring, their use has become widespread. 90% of Fortune 500 companies, 75% of all large companies, and 60% of mid-sized companies use an ATS to help during the hiring process.
Like it or not, employers are using applicant tracking systems to sift through the hundreds of applications they get for each job. On average, each job posting at a major company will received 250 applications. Only a handful of those will get to interview. Only one of them will ultimately get the job. So for many employers, an automated resume reader is a necessary part of their hiring process.
So what’s the big deal with these ATS robots? Well, they give you the opportunity to land your resume at the top of the hiring manager’s list – if you know how to make your application stand out from the crowd.
This robo-reader can be your golden ticket to the front of the line. Employers use the ATS as a tool to find the top candidates. Remember that you can use the ATS as a tool too!
What does this resume-reading robot mean for you as a job seeker?
It means that you need to understand how they work in order to get your resume read by an actual human. So how do you do that? Here are three things keep in mind to get recognized by the robot as a potential candidate.
To a human reader, “web design” and “web designer” are obviously related words. But for the robot, it may only be trained to parse the phrase “web designer”. It may ignore another other variation of the phrase when creating a relevance score.
This is why it’s vital that you use the exact key words and phrases found in the job description. Based on how many keywords you include, your resume is assigned a score. The highest scoring resumes get pushed to the top of the list and reviewed by hiring managers. The low-scoring ones often don’t get seen.
PRO TIP – Spell it out! Write out the full acronym, followed by the acronym in parentheses. It can improve your keyword scoring (especially if both the acronym & the keyword are on the hiring manager’s list!) and it gives your human reader full context if they aren’t familiar with in-field lingo.
2. No Tables or Infographics
The robot is able to score your resume based on its ability to “read” it by parsing the text. “Text” is the important element here. Image-based or infographic style resumes should be avoided (unless you’re applying for a creative design job) even though they do look cool. Robots can also mess up when trying to read information you stick into a table, so it’s good to avoid them as well.
This is not to say that you should go with a bland design for your resume! Just keep the actual information in a text format.
PRO TIP – Your resume is your chance to impress potential employers. Make sure to avoid these common resume mistakes!
3. Simple, Accurate Labeling
When you think of “standing out” you probably think you can accomplish this by using unique wording in your resume. Unfortunately, this can backfire on you. For example, be sure to call your past job experience “Work Experience.” If you get too creative with how you title this section (like calling it “Employment History” instead), the robot may skip over it because it wasn’t labeled in a way that it was expecting.
If you use these three tips when submitting your resume online, you’re more likely to beat the robot in the applicant tracking systems and get your resume in front of a human hiring manager.