Overcoming the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Many companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to organize applicants. With hundreds or even thousands of people applying for a single job listing, these systems serve to weed through applicants with a scanner before a human ever sees the document. Many job seekers have worries about how to adjust their resumes for these systems. The following guidelines will help ensure that your resume makes it to the hiring manager.

Include Keywords

To know which keywords to include on your resume, check the job posting for hints. Any listed skills are generally keywords the scanner will search for. Double check that your resume contains some – or all – of these keywords (or equivalent phrases). For example, if you are missing a major piece of software needed for your industry, or some other large requirement, you may not pass through the scanners. Ensure that your resume is geared towards the job posting and you should get through the keyword check just fine.

Don’t Use White Font Keywords

You may have heard about \”hiding\” keywords in the white spaces on a resume, where someone will type in numerous keywords and match the font to the background, rendering them invisible to the human eye (but still readable by the scanners). Avoid using this tactic on your resume. Not only is it easy to catch, but it does not necessarily guarantee you an interview. The hiring manager is likely to check for these keywords, especially if there is a big discrepancy between your resume and the posting you applied for.

Remember the Human Element

With all of this information, it may be tempting to format your resume for the scanner only. Don’t forget that eventually an HR person or hiring manager is going to look at your resume as well. If your resume is only formatted for a machine to read, then it may not pass the next part of the test.

With all the information about scanners on the web, it can seem overwhelming. Although it is important to be knowledgeable about the ATS, having a strong, relevant, and well-formatted resume will usually pass the scanner requirements.