How to Improve Your Resume for an Applicant Tracking System

How to Improve your Resume for an Applicant Tracking System

updated 4/2/2020

I'm sure you've heard that you should sprinkle your resume with keywords to make it stand out to recruiters. But the resume review process is changing. The first review of your resume is often done by a software program, known as an applicant tracking system (ATS). You'll need to understand what the program is looking for to get your resume in front of a Recruiter or Hiring Manager.

The advice to fill your resume with keywords may soon be outdated because there's a lot more to searching and matching than ever before. Older ATS software initially counted keywords to match applicants with positions. Now the software goes much more in-depth and examines factors such as how useful a given set of skills is and where experience in a subject area appears in an applicant's background.

Resume Contextualization:

Resume contextualization analyzes not just a keyword but also its relation to elements, including relevant and related terms, the depth of the experience, and how recent the experience was in a candidate's career path. The software is now looking for keywords like "Java" to be framed by descriptive material that demonstrates a level of familiarity with the program. For example, you should add when you learned it and your strengths within the program. ATS makes a distinction between someone who took a single Java class 8 years ago and someone who's been programming for years. The list of keywords will no longer be useful, but the presence of these keywords in resumes is still necessary.

Resume Formatting:

When writing a resume that will be evaluated by an ATS, make sure it is not overly formatted, as that can often be incompatible with the software. When an applicant fills his resume with pictures, graphics, and logos, headers and footers can make it difficult for the software to read and sort the text into categories or cause it to crash altogether.  Be sure you don't include your contact information in your header or footer; this can cause the program to crash as well.

Technology to help?

It may seem like a whole new skill set to learn, but don't let this new software overwhelm you. Technology is here to help.

Skillsyncer: Free resume keyword optimizer and job application tracker for job seekers. Their tool identifies skills and keywords missing from your resume when compared to a job description. Pricing includes a fee account, monthly subscription ($14.95), or billing quarterly ($12.95).

JobScan: Use their service to see if you pass the keyword test. "Get past resume Robots. We have researched the top systems and built our resume checker based on their common patterns to help you get noticed". They also have sample resume examples that list keywords and many services. free keyword finder scans the job description you're applying to and generates a list of relevant keywords you should include on your resume.

The applicant tracking system program is changing the way people connect with jobs. Keywords are still a crucial part of a resume, but now they must be framed in a way that shows a level of skill. We hope you found these tips helpful in creating a winning resume.




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