Find out how applicant tracking systems (ATS) impact resume writing
If you are looking for a job, odds are you have submitted numerous resumes online. Submitting a resume sure isn’t the way it used to be. These days, most resumes that are submitted online are going to be scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS) before they ever make it into the hands of hiring manager. The ATS will weed out resumes that are not a good fit for the job, based keywords that it has been programmed to search. That means that even if you are the perfect candidate for the job, your resume may not make it to the hiring manager if you don’t make it past the ATS.
Here are some tricks and tips to help give your resume a better chance of being selected by the ATS and forwarded to the desk of a real human being.
Customize each resume for the job posting
A one-size-fits all boilerplate resume is not a good idea. When you are submitting a resume, you should look carefully at what the job posting is asking for and make sure your resume fits the qualifications as closely as possible.
Determine the keywords, and use them
By reading the job posting carefully, you should be able to determine what they keywords are. These are the important job-related words that describe the kinds of skills and qualifications the employer is looking for. These are probably the keywords that the ATS has been programmed to use. Be sure to use as many of these keywords as you truthfully can.
Use keywords in a natural sounding way – no overstuffing
You don’t want to “overstuff” your resume with the keywords. The ATS might not mind the overstuffing, but if the hiring manager reads your resume and sees that you were inserting keywords in unnatural ways in order to trick the ATS, that will not reflect well on you.
Use the job title in your resume somewhere
Often employers are looking for someone who has already held this position for a different company. The problem is, you might have held the position, but it was called something slightly different, and as a result, the ATS won’t pick it up. To remedy this, use the exact title of the position in your summary, as in “…seeking a position as a [insert job title].”
It is more important than ever to proofread carefully, because an ATS will not pick up a keyword that is misspelled.
Keep the formatting as basic as you can
ATS’s sometimes stumble over highly formatted resumes. To be safe, avoid any fancy formatting like lines, arrows, borders, columns, text boxes, special characters, underlining, headers and footers, shading, colors, unusual fonts, indents, and tabs. Basic bullets are okay, and stick with a simple font like Arial, Calibri, or Georgia.
Keep section headings basic
For the headings in your resume, stick with Summary, Education, Work Experience, and Skills. This is not the time to get creative with your resume headings. ATS’s may not recognize the different sections if you use unusual titles.
Writing a resume is always a little challenging, but with these tips, we hope you can update your resume and improve the odds that an ATS will forward it on to the hiring manager. Good luck!
These tips are courtesy of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, New Hampshire. We offer training programs for practical nurses, nursing assistants, and patient care technicians. Contact us to find out more.