If you don’t consider automated recruitment systems (aka applicant tracking systems) when sending out various online applications, it’s highly likely that your resume won’t be seen by human eyes. Many recruiters are now using electronic ATS (applicant tracking systems) to help them sort through an abundance of applications. So if you’re applying online, make sure your resume, cover letter and other documentation have been adequately prepared.
How do I prepare my resume for ATS?
- Keep it simple is the mantra to use when revamping your resume, etc. Fancy formatting can no doubt impress the human recruiter, but funky imagery and layouts may transition into ‘mumbo jumbo’ when ATS gets hold of your application.
- Factor in the range of ATS, as even if your workmate tells you about an ATS that’s able to translate columns into readable text, it may not be the version your recruiter uses. If in doubt, leave it out of your resume and other job application documents.
- Keyword optimisation is critical, as the search criteria that recruiters set on their ATS is going to use keywords as part of its sorting functionality. Analyse the keywords based on relevant job ads and common industry terms, and strategically apply these throughout your resume, etc.
- Consider other ATS search criteria, based on the job ad specifications in particular. For example, is a geographical region specified as the job’s main focus, and/or any technology brands that they’d prefer the applicant has knowledge in? Tailor your resume and cover letter for such criteria.
- Simple doesn’t mean dull, particularly as the most relevant software to use for your resume – Microsoft Word – has a range of formatting options. The main pointers are to only use symbols found on your keyboard, and to avoid tables and columns.
- Also prepare for human eyes, which ties in with the above point about still taking care with how your resume is presented. Applications that make it through the initial ATS stage are next going to be viewed by a human recruiter, so still aim to stand out.
For most roles and industries, it’s a highly competitive job market where recruiters are bombarded with applications and information. Hence, the common use of a second set of electronic eyes to sort the ‘gold from the gravel’. Having to also factor in ATS for your resume and cover letter often feels like additional unwanted effort, but it’s an essential element in your job application, particularly when submitting online. Why take the chance of missing out on the more impactful ‘human recruiter’ stage of applying for a job.