Not getting interviews? ATS might be to blame

Resume & CV Advice

Have you applied for a job at the same time as a less experienced colleague and they got an interview and you got rejected? Then you may be the victim of ATS. Find out what it is and how to beat it now …

So, what is ATS and what has it got to do with you?

Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, are used by employers and recruitment agencies to manage job opportunities across their organisations by screening incoming resumes from job seekers.

They were first used by large corporations that receive thousands of applications, but smaller businesses are now using them just as frequently.

You may be asking yourself why? Why now? Recruiters and HR didn’t use them in the past so why do they all use them now?

The answer is simple – online job boards. It is so easy for job searchers to submit multiple applications simultaneously.

And, because it is so easy, so many people apply for so many jobs that they really are not qualified for. It’s the culture of “may as well, you never know’.

Of course, sometimes that works but the result is that 50% of all applications do not meet the criteria stated in job advertisements.

 

50% of all applications do not meet the criteria stated in job advertisements.

 

You can see this type of behaviour on LinkedIn where jobs are posted, with details of how to apply, but people just write ‘Interested’ and attach their resume.

It is frustrating for recruiters and HR and even more frustrating for the real candidates who are qualified for the position and serious about their application.

 

Now you know they exist, let’s look at exactly what they do

When you apply for a position, the software will try to parse your resume into the database by scanning the document to complete basic fields of information such as name, contact, work history, qualifications, and referees.

If it can’t find this information, then you will be rejected. Not because of your skills and experience but just because your resume was not formatted correctly.

In fact, 75% of resumes are rejected for online applications due to the way they are formatted.

 

75% of resumes are rejected for online applications due to the way they are formatted.

 

Then the software will grade your application. The ATS bots will look for key phrases and information from the job description and also keywords and phrases set by HR or recruiters.

Put simply, the software scores your resume in order to determine which candidates are most qualified to join a shortlist that a human will review.

The good news is that ATS is just an algorithm and all algorithms can be deconstructed.

 

The good news is that ATS is just an algorithm and all algorithms can be deconstructed

 

As Albert Einstein said

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play better than anyone else”

So that is what we are going to do now because there is a real science or rather technology behind the vast majority of online applications – and a definite way of playing it to get better results.

 

 

14 design tips to ATS proof your resume format

1 Headers and Footers

Don’t use any. ATS cannot recognize them and any information contained within them.

2 Don’t include graphics, logos or tables

ATS cannot read graphics and they often misread tables. Instead of reading tables left to right, as a person would, ATS read them up and down. Remember, robots have no feelings. If they don’t get what they want, they just reject.

3 Choose your font wisely.

Use sans-serif fonts — like Verdana or Tahoma — instead of serif fonts like Times New Roman or Cambria that some screening software will actually reject. Avoid script fonts completely and don’t use anything smaller than 11 point font.

4 Don’t put your Qualifications next to your name in the header

This can confuse ATS systems and prevent them from seeing your real name as it adds everything into the name field. Mark Smith B.Eng becomes Mark B.Eng on the database.

5 Always give a physical address

If an ATS cannot find a field of information, the chances are high that your application will be rejected or a message will come up to HR or the recruiters to ‘input manually’.

Bearing in mind that they receive a high volume of applications every day, there is more chance of them deleting you rather than taking the time to contact you regarding your address.

Also, locations can be used as screening words.

6 Don’t Start your Work Experience with dates

To ensure ATS reads and imports your work experience properly, always start it with your job title, followed by your employers’ name, followed by the dates you held that title.

Applicant tracking systems look for job titles and company names first so don’t start your work experience with the dates you held certain positions

7 Call your Work History “Work History”

Tell it as it is.

It is a computer and does not understand the subtleties of the English language.

Sometimes job seekers refer to their work experience on their resume as their “Professional Experience” or “Career Achievements” (or some other variation on that theme) and often the computer will completely skip over their work experience because they didn’t label it as such so it could not find it.

8 Repeat important keywords

Ensure that your key skills are repeated so that they are picked up multiple times to gain points but don’t go overboard.

Recruiters and ATS are savvy about tricks jobseekers use (such as typing false qualifications in white font)

9 Acronyms

Use both the acronym and the spelt-out forms

Whether it is titles, processes, certifications, or organization because you don’t know what the ATS is programmed to search for.

eg  HSE Specialist – Health Safety & Environment Specialist

10 Qualify key skills.

Include the basic skills but also include specific and advanced skills plus the depth of experience you have.

11 Don’t worry about submitting a long resume

You are dealing with an ATS system, not a human who may get bored!

It will scan your resume regardless of whether it’s two pages or ten.

In fact, submitting a longer resume that allows you to pack in more relevant experience and keywords and phrases increases your chances of ranking higher in the system.

Please note. Humans also don’t get bored reading a longer resume if it is relevant and presented correctly.

12 Don’t forget Web Crawlers

Social recruiting software crawls the web for specific keywords and the best way to get noticed is to have a social media profile that follows all these rules.

Some ATS actually show your profile directly within your application, so it is readily available to recruiters and HR.

Letting the ATS find your social profile can be beneficial and the best site for this is, of course, LinkedIn.

13 Check for spelling mistakes

Human beings can at least figure out what you mean but an ATS will reject you immediately because it will have no idea what you’re talking about.

So double, triple, and quadruple check your resume before sending it in.

Have someone else do the same.

There really is no excuse for getting this wrong.

14 Never send your resume as a PDF

Most ATS lack a standard way to structure PDF documents and therefore they can easily be misread which means you will be rejected.

The exception to this rule though is if the site specifically asks for a PDF version.

 

Seems like a lot of work? Let me leave you with this thought…

If 75% of resumes submitted for online applications get rejected by ATS because of poor formatting, if you submit the right format, you are straight through to the top 25%.

 

If 75% of resumes submitted for online applications get rejected by ATS because of poor formatting, if you submit the right format, you are straight through to the top 25%.

 

 

Use this information now to redevelop your resume for your next online application.
Or, if you would like a free, 100% honest appraisal of your current format, we are here for you at the Hi Vis Club.
Just use this link now

 

Appraise My Resume

 

 

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About the Author

Amanda is the Co-Founder of the Hi Vis Box, the Hi Vis Club, and the Hi Vis Hub. When she isn’t developing companies known for innovative HR and recruitment solutions, she enjoys adding to her slightly obsessive pen collection, and is rather fond of Yorkshire Puddings, Guinness and being walked by an enormous dog called Henry.

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