By now you probably know that your resume is often entered into a database and subject to search engine scanning for key words that match you the job you’re applying for. If you haven’t heard of it, the software is called Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) and it’s something like customer relations management software. In this case, though, the customer base is built from job applicants. It’s designed to reduce the hiring manager’s time in sifting hundreds or even thousands of resumes down to a handful. The manager creates a search algorithm to produce a first round of results, then can can run a new search against that subset to reduce the number even further.
ATS does more than just deliver resumes that match specified search criteria. It’s used to help recruiters in all phases of the process, from storing applicant files to recording correspondence between them and an applicant.
Understanding how ATS works will help your resume stand out. If you’re still mailing resumes, be sure to keep it simple. Use a simple font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Don’t use bold or italics because the ATS’s OCR software may skip over it.
When submitting your resume online, follow these guidelines:
Avoid text boxes because some packages can’t see into text boxes, and so ignores them. Though it’s tempting to use a box to center your name and address, your perfect resume may get overlooked because the field for your name is left blank.
For the same reason, don’t put your name and address in the header. Some packages skip the headers and footers. Also, don’t count on the recruiter to know how to use Microsoft Word. Your resume may never be printed and a recruiter may not find your name if in the wrong mode. I learned this when I was applying to an online school and the counselor kept insisting that I didn’t include my name. She was viewing in print mode.
Don’t use odd spacing, like D i n o L o n d i s because that can be skipped as well.
Although you want to list all your credentials, such as MCP, or Ph.D., don’t put it next to your name – it can mess up the identification. I also suggest spelling out your credentials. CCNA should be Certified Cisco Network Administrator.
If PDFs are accepted, be sure that your document is searchable. A non-searchable document may as well be blank.
Finally, no gaming. In other words, don’t play the system. Be careful about some tricks you read about, like taking all the buzz words from the job description and putting them in an invisible font. That runs the risk of getting you blacklisted. Yes, the software will respond to buzzwords, but it can just as easily check resumes that are overloaded. Once the recruiter sees your resume, he may do a quick check for such tricks. It’s not worth it.
– Dino Londis