Outsmart the Application Tracking System. Here’s How

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If you are looking for a job, the following might sound familiar. You find an opportunity, build your best resume, submit it, and pray your application will pass the review process. 

But are you aware of the black hole in your resume? Believe it or not, about 75 percent of job applications are rejected. Before anyone even sees them. With the growth of technology, the Application Tracking System was introduced. This is where most of the “black holes” of the applicant’s resume are found.

Application Tracking System or simply ATS is a software used by recruiters to select, compile, scan, and check job applications. It aims to help big companies with their recruitment process. Today, about 98 percent of fortune companies rely on this software to help streamline the recruitment process. So, how is this software changing the recruitment process?

ATS works as an electronic gatekeeper for employers. The ATS will scan the resume’s content and break it into categories regarding the specific keywords. Then, ATS will determine if the job application should pass to the recruiter or not. This software is supposed to select qualified candidates. And eliminate the least-qualified candidates. This process wins time for the recruiters to evaluate the best fit.

There are dozens of ATS with their unique features, strengths, and weaknesses. Some commonly used ATS by companies is Taleo, Brassring, Workday, CATS, SmartRecruiter, Lever, Jobvite, Greenhouse, BambooHR, and many more.

If you’re applying to a large organization or company, you will face an ATS. No matter where or how you apply, you will face it. How to be best prepared, you wonder? Here are some tips about writing ATS-friendly resumes: 

Select the correct file type 

PDF is not the friendliest with ATS. If asked to upload your resume to an applicant tracking system and “PDF” lists among the file types, use a PDF. However, if the system does not specify which file types are compatible, stick to a Word document in .doc or Docx. You don’t want to be ignored only because of the format, do you?

Optimize keywords

One of the best ways to ensure your resume is compatible with an ATS is to optimize your resume’s keywords. When it comes to creating an ATS-optimized resume, you need to think about the frequency and the placement of keywords. Some applicant tracking systems will associate the length of experience for a skill based on how long you held the job where the skill was leveraged. For instance, if you worked at your past job for five years and mentioned that you handled SEO, the ATS will assume you have five years’ worth of SEO experience from that job.

Avoid images, charts, and graphics

Albeit these may look nice to the human eyes, resumes with images could become a mess. And even omitted from your application. For example, if you insert an image or chart to determine your skills, the ATS will not read it. And we don’t want that.

Stick to simple bullet points

If you have accomplishments in your experiences or want to put your job description, it’s better to use simple bullet points to highlight them. Avoid using complex characters when creating a bullet list on your resume. Stick to the most straightforward options, such as a solid circle, open circle, or square, to ensure your bullet points enhance your resume rather than make it incompatible with an ATS. 

A clean design resume is a plus

You don’t have to be extravagant with your resume. When it comes to your resume, less is more. Not only do complex designs or unusual formats confuse most applicant tracking systems, but they also annoy recruiters accustomed to quickly scan a resume for specific information they expect to find in particular areas within the document. Remember, a recruiter spends on average 6 seconds on your resume. Ensure they can find everything they need to get you to the interview phase!

Final thoughts

Having a good resume is one of the strategies that you need to consider the most. Don’t hesitate to ask people around you who have more experience in this field or read our other blogs about resumes. Nowadays, dozens of options are available to write a good resume and get you hired in 2021. 

AIESEC is here to help you prepare your resume and yourself to be more outstanding than the others. AIESEC provides many opportunities from volunteer abroad and internships for you to become a better candidate. So, are you ready to get hired in 2021?


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