Times have changed drastically in every aspect of life lately. So have recruitment processes. Employers have made a few significant changes in the recruitment process, and it is all for good. Gone are the days when you typed out all your professional information manually and printed it out on A4 sheets, and sent out to recruiters what you called your resume. Now, with a variety of templates to choose from, professional services offered by expert resume writers, technology being used to make it more creative, more professional- resume writing itself has become as competitive as job seeking. Moreover, with the use of artificial intelligence systems like the ATS or the applicant tracking system, building the best resume has become even harder and requires more strategic thinking than ever before. The ATS is one which enables recruiters to get hold of the most relevant resumes for a particular job. This is done by identifying and matching keywords from each resume to the keywords in the job description. Therefore, the recruiter gets a set of streamlined resumes which he or she can screen for an interview call. This means, candidates now have an additional task of making their resumes ATS friendly, because almost 80% of the resumes aren’t even seen by human eyes and they get rejected. Otherwise, your resume can suffer the unfortunate impact of getting lost in the “resume black-hole”, basically getting lost into the cyberspace and not identified by any of this artificial intelligence software as valid/ useful. This sounds frightening, but let it not scare you, for we will provide you with a detailed understanding of what ATS is and how to get past it!
Let’s get to the bottom of what ATS is and how to use it to your advantage!
In simple terms, ATS is a software used by recruiters and employers to sort, screen and categorise the job applications to create a pool suitable candidates for their open positions. It was created initially for large organisations, where recruiters generally go through an approximate over hundreds of applications and LinkedIn profiles each day. However, this has now become a standard tool used by small and medium corporations as well. You can compare ATS to a virtual gatekeeper. It filters in only those suitable and keeps the unfits out.
So, as an applicant, your responsibility would be to create ATS friendly resumes, so your resume easily passes through its keyword-sieve and is automatically shortlisted for actual review by the recruiter. This can be the easiest of tasks if you understand the process and the key points. Since, everything is now computerised, building a resume that is ATS friendly will not be a tough task. This only takes as you are used to handing out resumes in person. Also, that recruiters used to go through resumes one by one in the past. This might look like an elephant of a task. But, no it isn’t. First, let’s look at the mistakes made my most candidates across countries which you can prevent to avoid getting trapped in the resume black-hole, as the void is rightly called. Here are some tips to turn around your ways of writing a resume to get ahead of the programmed brains!
The ATS robots are programmed according to the requirement of the recruiter. Hence, it will directly omit any data that is not relevant to the data provided by the employer. There are various mistakes that candidates make while building a resume. Around 25% of candidates mention their contact information in the header section of their resume. This is one mistake that most of them make and can cost you a chance at the job. Unfortunately, the ATS robots ignore the header of a page while scanning it for information. Therefore, most resumes get rejected even before the first line is scanned. Since there is no human intervention during the ATS process, there is no way to clear this round if your resume does not meet the bits requirement.
Another common error that candidates make is that they build a fancy resume. How is this a mistake? Fancy resume templates aren’t robot friendly. The bots used during the recruitment processes are very basic and cannot read complicated or fancy resumes. It is just going to reduce the chances of being shortlisted. The key is to keep it simple.
Talking about keeping it simple, some resumes are full of graphics. People may have included graphical information to attract their employers, but the reality is, their resumes are getting rejected because the ATS cannot decipher these figures, and they get scrambled under such a system. The ATS views your graphics as scrap. It immediately does not read the content in your image or chart. Any form of graphic, image or chart will not be read. This will affect you like the content that you put in it thinking it as a pictorial representation will not be of any use. This is the reason; you must have all your content in the text in your resume. Do not use images to convey any information that is important or related to your career. The ATS does not detect it as information.
While this is one mistake that almost everyone does, submitting the resume in incompatible form. During the process of a job search, we do not give this much attention. However, this might be the reason you are facing rejections. Your resume might be the perfect match for the role, but, because you did not send it in the desired file format, the ATS would have rejected it in the initial stage. 43% of resumes are submitted in an incompatible file format. Most people submit their resumes in PDFs to prevent them from being changed, but the ATS sometimes cannot comprehend a PDF.
The most crucial skill to acquire to write a resume is to learn to choose and use your keywords wisely. The optimal keywords you use will be the soft and hard skills you possess, the expertise you have, training, if any, etc. If you face difficulty in choosing keywords, look through a few job descriptions for the position you are applying for. ATS works on keywords. There is nothing one can do if your keywords do not match the ones with the ATS requirement. As mentioned earlier, ATS is fed with information by the recruiter. Hence, it is going to shortlist your resume if and only if your resume has the minimum number of the required keyword. You, as a candidate, will not know what the keywords are. Therefore, to gain the most points, read the job description thoroughly. Picking up the same words from that context gives you higher chances of matching the keywords that ATS is looking for. Use fonts like Arial, Calibri, since these are ATS friendly fonts. Avoid extravagant and decorative fonts for your resumes.
Once, the resume is complete, and you think you have written everything necessary and is ready to go, run a pre-ATS check. For this, you can copy the content of your resume and paste it as a plain text file and scan. If the plain text format looks different/ words seem to be omitted/ layout looks disorganised from your original resume, so it can be assumed that your resume is not ATS friendly, and needs editing. Otherwise, you may simply opt for a free ATS scan available on the internet. To test your resume and make necessary changes according to the result of the test. It will help you build a more ATS-friendly resume. A resume like this will often land you in an interview. Always run a pre-ATS check every time you submit your resume. The requirements for every job will be different. Hence, customise the resume according to the job requirements.
With the advancing technology, it is essential for recruitment processes to advance as well. ATS is the beginning of the advancement in hiring process making it simpler and time-saving. ATS has made both job search and recruitment easy. Resumes now can be submitted online, time, money and effort of the candidate are reduced by almost half. The recruiter need not have to go through hundreds of resumes to shortlist candidates. Time is the most important factor, and ATS is making the process hassle-free. Every recruiter is now using the ATS process to segregate eligible candidates from the ineligible ones. As there is no human intervention, it all depends on how well your resume speaks of you. To clear the initial round in the hiring process, your resume needs to be outstanding. It should match the keywords precisely, only then will you be able to move forward in the process. Your resume needs to be written in a way that it clears the ATS round and also appears impressive to the employer as well. Keep in mind the above points while building a resume to achieve an ATS-friendly best resume.