Tips for Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Applicant Tracking System

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Tips for Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Applicant Tracking System

Links for upcoming workshops on 7/31/20 & 8/24/20 can be found here: http://bit.ly/ATSBlackHole

Nearly 75% of resumes are never seen by human eyes when submitted through applicant tracking systems for online job applications. Why? Formatting and more. 

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is an automated resume screener and there are over 200 ATS systems available today. Resumes go through a parser and are read by a bot before a human. The bot assigns a mathematical score to your resume against the job description as it reads entire phrases and not just keywords. The terminology for the technology that reads phrases in your resume with the words before and after the keywords is called contextualization.

Your score is then validated and is moved on to be viewed by human eyes — or it goes into the black hole because it did not match at a high enough percentage. This is extremely frustrating for those who are qualified for positions but can’t get past the bots. 

You must have a base resume and then customize the keywords to match each and every job application. If you don’t know how to do this, there are workshops available this week that will teach you how. 

Here are some other tips for the ATS “deconstructed resume”, which is different than your “pretty” resume that you snail mail, email, or hand to someone.

Tip #1: Customize your “future-forward” resume with key titles and keywords for the position you are applying to

Tip #2: Remove all images, graphics, logos, or pictures, as they may not be readable by the ATS

Tip #3: Use a font no less than 11 point and Arial is recommended for the ATS resume

Tip #4: Don’t hide keywords in white text and try to cheat the system, as they come out black on the other end

Tip #5: Remove irrelevant positions from your resume

Tip #6: Beware of special characters – no arrows or checkmarks; solid black bullets seem to work for most ATS systems

Tip #7: Avoid any kind of shading, tables, lines that cross the entire page, fancy borders, and section breaks on the ATS resume

Tip #8: Check for spelling errors—the ATS may miss keywords if they are misspelled

Tip #9: Place your contact information at the top and not in the header and make sure you have included your customized LinkedIn URL.

Tip #10: Add the dates of your employment after your employer, city, state at the far right of the page

Tip #11: Send your resume from a Word document, unless requested otherwise. PDFs can be readable or non-readable images. Uploading a resume is preferred to copying and pasting your resume into text boxes.

Tip #12: Do not upload your resume multiple times. This may hurt, rather than help and raise red flags. 

Tip #13: Mirror the language in the job description on your ATS resume to showcase your expertise; use the niche terminology

Tip #14: Only type typical resume sections and use the sections of LinkedIn as your guideline

Tip #15: Quantify your accomplishments and achievements in bullet points in your work experience rather than stating your responsibilities

Tip # 16: Use jargon and buzzwords from your industry so the applicant tracking system tools that index and crawl submissions pick up these key phrases and terms 

Tip #17: Use keyword and text analyzers with your job description so you have a helping hand with technology for data-driven decision making 

Tip #18: Develop two resumes: pretty formatted and deconstructed for ATS  

Tip #19: Include your social media handles on your resume to show you are current and relevant with your technology skills

AUTHOR BIO

Lynne M. Williams, Ed.D. Candidate is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides career education and networking connections for: 1) jobseekers in career transition, including veterans and 2) employed and self-employed for career management. In addition, Lynne is also the owner of Around the Clock Executive Helper, a writer of resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Lynne presents unique research-based workshops on LinkedIn, resumes, the Applicant Tracking System, the Art of Networking In Person & Online, and other career-related, social media, and technology topics. She is currently working on writing her doctoral dissertation and is a contributing author to Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing the Job You Love along with the late Dick Bolles, the author of What Color is Your Parachute?. In addition, she writes a weekly career column in Vista.Today Montco.Today and Delco.Today and other publications with LinkedIn tips and more. Connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/lynnewilliams with a personalized message and visit the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group website and read our SCORE Success Story!