Thanks to websites like Monster, Indeed and ZipRecruiter, applying for jobs is easy and hassle-free. All you have to do is upload your resume, input your contact information, and hit the submit button. The process is undoubtedly convenient, but just because you followed the rules doesn’t mean your application will be reviewed by a human.
Nowadays, most resumes go through an applicant tracking system (ATS) before they’re sent to a recruiter. In fact, a 2019 report from CNBC found that more than 95 percent of Fortune 500 Companies now employ ATS programs. An ATS is a type of software that screens potential applicants. Think of it like a miniature search engine –– it scans your resume for certain keywords or skills to determine if you’re qualified for a specific position.
Knowing your chances of a call back rely solely on artificial intelligence can be discouraging, but with a little bit of forethought and planning, you can make sure your resume hits all the marks. Here are 3 tricks for getting your resume past an ATS.
1.) Pay special attention to formatting. There are many apps available that make it easy to create a beautiful, eye-catching resume. These programs allow you to insert text boxes, bulleted lists, columns, and graphs. While these features might make your resume pop, they aren’t necessarily good for online job submissions. If an ATS is unable to scan your application quickly, it may discard it altogether.
Every ATS is different, but as a general rule, follow these tips:
- Label each section of the resume with clear, easy to understand titles (Ie: Education or Work History)
- Use a sans serif font size 11 or greater
- Leave a one-inch margin on all sides
- Avoid columns, lines, or page breaks that might confuse the ATS
2.) Tailor your resume for the position you’re applying for. Submitting the same resume for every job posting might save you time, but it’s not a good strategy when there’s an ATS in the mix. As we mentioned earlier, ATS’ scan submissions for specific keywords and qualifications. If none of those items are on your resume, it’ll get passed over for someone else. When reviewing a job position, find words or skills that are repeated several times. Then, work those words into your resume in a way that sounds natural.
3.) Don’t cheat. Some people think that the only way to get around an ATS is to keyword stuff or embellish your qualifications. Lying or cheating might get you past the ATS, but it doesn’t make a good impression. If you’re willing to break the rules just to get an interview, what would you be willing to do once employed?
By following these tips, you can prime your resume and get more callbacks. For additional tips and tricks, check out this article from CIO.