Resume Tips for the Technology Age
Ever wonder what happens when you upload your resume to apply for a job? Will it go straight to Human Resources, or will it get lost forever in an abyss of others applications? Often times, the answer depends on you.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are technology tools many employers rely on to vet, parse and store resumes. Often the first recipients of your uploaded resume, ATS software can determine the fate of your information based on the wording, format and structure. The trick is knowing how to tailor your resume for technology (the ATS) so that people will read it.
This week, our first-ever guest blogger, Erin Osterhaus, takes a look inside an ATS from a job seeker’s perspective. Erin is the HR Analyst at Software Advice and took the time to answer our ATS questions: what they are, who utilizes them, and how to beat the system to send your resume to the top of the pile. Here’s what she had to say:
When you apply for a job and upload your resume online, where does it go? Please explain the concept of an ATS system (and who uses them) in laymen’s terms for job seekers.
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software tool used by recruiters to simplify the recruiting process. Chances are, if you’ve applied for a job online—either through a job board, like Indeed, or a company’s career page—you’ve used an ATS.
When you push submit, your resume, cover letter and other materials are saved into the ATS database and associated with your candidate profile. Recruiters can then go into the system to review each application.
Within the system, recruiters can more easily determine where you and other candidates stand in the recruiting process. They can leave comments on a candidate’s profile page, as well as note whether that candidate has been contacted for a phone or in-person interview. These features allow recruiters to track candidates easily and manage their documents in one place, as well as store past applicants in the system who might be a good fit for a future position. You can read more about how applicant track systems work here.
Is that like uploading your resume to Monster.com? Who else uses ATS systems?
Most ATSs integrate with all the major job boards, such as Monster.com and LinkedIn, or company careers pages. ATSs are generally used solely for recruiting purposes, although they are similar to customer relationship manager (CRM) software used by many firms who work with multiple clients at once.
How should job seekers tailor their resume so that it is more easily searchable and likely to get through filters/matching criteria? What keywords should they use?
Many ATSs can parse resumes based on keywords chosen by the recruiter, so it’s important for job seekers to include the right keywords in their applications.
As such, I would suggest looking at the company’s job description and finding keywords that they repeat often in relation to the position, then ensure that your resume and cover letter have a nice sprinkling of those keywords. Another good tactic: go to the LinkedIn pages of employees already working at the company in similar posts to see how they position themselves, and use similar phrasing and keywords.
Do employers always use ATS systems? How do you get around them?
Not all employers use an ATS. Some may still rely on spreadsheets and email to hire, but as the software becomes more affordable, it’s also becoming more ubiquitous. It is believed that approximately 50 percent of all mid-sized companies were using some form of ATS in 2010, and that number is growing as more companies adopt HR technology.
It’s probably in a candidate’s best interest for an employer to use an ATS. These systems shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle for job seekers. Instead, they allow recruiters to do their jobs more efficiently and, I would say, actually increase the chances that you’ll hear back in a timely manner.
That said, I would still suggest doing your research on a company before you apply. It’s often a good practice to find the recruiter or hiring manager’s email information and send them a brief note expressing your interest in the position. It lets them know you really care about the job, and also serves as a way for you to stand out from all the other applicants already in the ATS.