An application tracking system (ATS) is used by employers and hiring agencies to scan resumes.
When a job posting is listed, it is not unusual for hiring managers to get dozens, sometimes hundreds, of resumes. This is especially true as the Internet has streamlined searching for employment and connecting with hiring managers. For those managers, it can be daunting to look at each resume with a discerning eye. For larger organizations, this can be impractical.
Utilizing today's technology, when a national search for a position opens up, resumes are often placed into a database. This system is set up to scan each document. In order to find its way to a hiring manager's desk, the ATS, often referred to as a keyword scanner, reviews every resume, looking for relevant keywords and phrases that give the submission credibility. Only those resumes that pass muster get seen by a human eye.
If you want to get past the ATS, you need to take a few steps with your resume.
Relevant content. Every career counselor and hiring manager will stress the importance of keeping your resume founded in material that matters to the prospective position. Keep text as brief as possible and descriptions relevant to the position. Every task performed at your last job doesn't need to be listed.
Manage your language. The ATS is a machine. It does not distinguish between programmer with CAD experience and CAD expert. The human eye knows better but the ATS will read it differently, dismissing the phrase as unimportant to what hiring managers are looking for. Tailor your content to the job description as much as possible.
Stay away from images and graphics. More and more candidates are personalizing their resumes with everything from pictures to video. Unfortunately, an ATS cannot read any of these enhancements and could put your resume in the wrong category. You should also stick with easy to decipher fonts like Garamond and Times New Roman.
Be transparent in the construction of your resume. Candidates that are familiar with ATS have tried to circumvent the system using hidden or white fonts to insert keywords the system will find. They also claim to have skills that they don't. Don't waste your time. Even if you get past the ATS, you still have to get past the hiring manager and the interview process. Outside of proofread carefully, the best advice you will ever get about your resume is to be honest and straightforward about your background.
Create a strong skill section. The ATS system is going to look for words that indicate skill, especially technical ones. If you have any experience with anything from iOS to Illustrator to isoTracker Document Control, list them. The ATS will pick them up, maximizing the chances your resume will get past the scanner and into a hiring manager's IN box.
Stick to a traditional format. The ATS won't be able to differentiate contact information that's at the top or the bottom of the page, or if you place education before work history. They need to hit points in order.
If you utilize a resource like Resume-Help, you increase your chances of crafting the kind of credentials that will get past an ATS and impress hiring managers every time.