How To Get Your Resume Through Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicants used to be able to submit their resumes to recruiters and rest assured their resume would be read by someone who could decide if their skills and experience made them the right fit for a job. However, with so many recruiters using Applicant Tracking Systems today, it’s unlikely that your resume will be seen under traditional circumstances if it doesn’t make it past the technological barrier.

For those in internet marketing jobs, the idea of writing copy for a certain algorithm is nothing new. The same way search engines pick up on certain websites that are optimized for search, you should tailor your resume for applicant tracking systems that many companies are utilizing. Here’s how to edit your resume for some of the most popular applicant tracking systems that are used by recruiters, technical staffing companies, and HR professionals.

Create a unique resume for each application

Gone are the days of only tailoring your cover letter to a position. With today’s recruiting technologies in place, you, now, need to spend time tweaking your resume for each of your job applications. This requires you to hone in on experience, skills, and objectives that don’t directly apply or benefit your desired position. In fact, you might even be able to get rid of certain sections altogether. For example, if you’re applying for a web designer position, you might not necessarily need the part of your resume that lists editorial internships. While a human could look at that and consider the benefits of your diverse experience, a technical program could just see it as fluff that dilutes the rest of your application.

When adjusting your resume for a specific position, it’s important to have the job description nearby for reference. While you should refrain from copying and pasting the description into your resume exactly, you should use it as a guideline for what the employer – or software – wants to see. Be sure to highlight your own skills that appear in the description, and call out any similar tasks you’ve performed at other companies.

CIO magazine also noted that, whenever possible, it’s beneficial to drop a name – the company’s name, that is.

“Within Taleo, one of the most popular ATS packages, the solution automatically gives applicants points for using the company name in the application,” Rick Gillis, job search expert, strategist, consultant, and author, told the magazine. “If you use the company name once, the Taleo system will give you a point. If you use it twice, you get two points in their system. If you want to see how it works, they’re very open about the process. Taleo even has videos on YouTube that show how they eliminate candidates who don’t know how to play this game.”

Use keywords

While tailoring your resume for a specific job or position, one of the most important areas of focus are the keywords you use. If you’re applying for a digital marketing job, for example, you’ll want to make sure to include the phrase “digital marketing” where it makes sense to do so throughout your resume. Additionally, your technical and functional skills should reflect what’s listed in the job description, as well as what’s expected of a professional in the industry.

However, as with all of your job applications, it’s critical that you’re able to speak to everything that’s on your resume. Making it past applicant tracking systems is meaningless if you’re not actually qualified for the job.

“[Never] put anything in your resume or your application that you can’t speak to in an interview,” Gillis told CIO. “Sure, you’ll get past the machines, but you’ll be branded as a dishonest, deceitful, and untrustworthy person, and you’ll never land a job.”

Keep formatting simple

Using fancy fonts and styles to highlight certain parts of your focus is great for a person scanning your resume, but can make things much more complicated for an ATS. Stick to basic fonts that you would use for a paper or report, and keep bold and italics down to a minimum. You can always have an optimized version of your resume for the ATS and another one that’s more extensive for the actual recruiter.

Color and styles mean very little to an ATS – but organization is everything. According to U.S. News & World Report, you can list relevant skills and work experience as often as you’d like, but if it’s in the “wrong” spot, the system may never pick up on it. That’s why organizing your resume into sections and using common headers is so important to getting noticed. The news source recommended dividing information into the following categories: Contact Information, Summary, Professional Experience, Education, Training, Certifications, and Skills. From there, take phrasing from the job description as it applies to each category to ensure that your resume doesn’t go undetected.

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