8 Tips To Outsmart Applicant Tracking Software

In today’s competitive job market and hi-tech digital job boards there is a new electronic gatekeeper standing between you and your dream job. UP to 75% of all resumes never get seen by human eyes. Instead they’re scanned by applicant tracking systems (ATS) which are used by more than 80% of Australian companies and recruitment agencies. Depending on how highly the ATS ranks your resume, you could be first in line for an interview or buried so far down the list recruiters never find you.

If you want to ensure your resume doesn’t disappear into cyber-world and actually makes its way into the hands of a human, you need to know how to outsmart an ATS.

By following these 8 tips, you can increase your chances of making it past any applicant tracking software used by a recruiter.

Use a concise professional profile

The professional profile is the part of the document that is most likely to be picked up by ATS and enter the applicant into a specific tracking system. Therefore, the profile must be tailored to match the job requirements and clearly demonstrate the applicant’s skills, experience, qualifications, areas of expertise and the values they bring. A well written profile will make it easy for the person who eventually reads the resume to say, “Yes, this is exactly what we’re looking for!”.

Clearly outline skills and experience

If the job description says knowledge of certain packages, or demonstration of certain competencies, are vital then a resume that does not clearly state that the applicant has this knowledge could very easily be delegated to the “No” pile.

An employer will not naturally assume an applicant has the required skills. For this reason, all basic requirements must be included, or an ATS might remove you from the pool of candidates before your resume even reaches the employer or recruiter.

Always customise for keywords

When reading a resume or application, most applicant tracking software parses the information, removing the formatting and looking for specific keywords to be included in the text. You can learn what types of keywords the software is looking for by reading the job description of the position that interests you. Then you need to tweak your resume to mimic the exact language in the job description.

While it will require a bit of extra work, you are more likely to receive more response when you tailor the text in your resume and customise it to use the keywords and phrases that best fit each specific position to which you apply. This is because ATS determines whether you are qualified for the position based on how closely the terms used in your resume match the keywords for each specific position.

Don’t stuff your resume with keywords. Generally, it’s best to only repeat a specific keyword two to three times per page in your resume. Be careful and avoid repeating the same keyword too many times. Many software programs are configured to disregard those resumes that repeat them too often. Keyword “stuffing” turns off both robotic and human screeners.

Be careful using industry Jargon and acronyms

Recruiters and ATS are NOT a subject-matter experts. So, when using keywords, don’t forget to spell out industry specific acronyms, titles and certifications as well as include their common abbreviations to make certain that your qualifications are not overlooked.

Don’t use images, pictures, symbols, and shading and try to stick to well-known fonts

Creative resumes with lots of colour, fun graphics and charts, or inventive layouts may grab a human recruiter’s attention, but these embellishments lower the odds your resume will make it through the ATS scanning. ATS gets tripped up by any images, photos, logos, graphics, charts or tables that you might have included within the document. Even unusual fonts or fancy stylised bullet points, like an arrow, can be a problem.

Use standard headings

ATS can only understand what it has been programmed to understand and requires robotic levels of conformity. Creative titles or sections labelled “what I’ve been working on” or “what motivates me” likely won’t be recognised, because these systems have been specifically told to search and sort information based on the most common section headers, such as work experience, professional summary, work history, education, skills and professional certifications.

Get the format right

Most applications are removed by ATS because they are not formatted in way these systems can read and interpret. If possible, try to save your resume in a text format to help ensure that any ATS used can easily read the content in your resume.

The online application usually specifies file uploads it accepts, but if it is unclear, stick to Word docs or pure text, which are near universally understood by all ATS.

It is very tempting to upload a PDF document, especially when you’re concerned about formatting and design remaining intact, but some of the less sophisticated systems recruiters rely on may be unable to read this common file type, viewing it as blank or as one large image.

Be wary of using headers and footers

Avoid placing any important information, such as contact details, in the header or footer, since not every ATS can read these sections. And if the recruiter can’t see your name or email, they’ll never be able to bring you in for an interview no matter how much they may like your resume.

Finally, don’t leave it up to ATS software!

Unless the application instructions specifically say, “no phone calls or emails allowed”, the best way around ATS software is to go directly to a human. While it is important to still follow the recruiter’s procedures and submit an online application, it never hurts to send a direct email to the contact person. Find out who the decision-maker is and send them your resume along with a brief explanation as to why you’re the perfect fit for the position.

Crafting a resume that will get you past the electronic gatekeeper is not an easy task. Why not get in touch today and ask us about our FREE RESUME REVIEW and Professional Resume | CV Writing Services that can help you to stack the odds in your favour and increase your chance to be called in for an interview. We also provide and specialise in professional cover letter developmentinterview coachingcareer coaching and job search advice. 

We offer services across Australia, including all capital cities and regional areas. Our Professional Resume Writers and Career Consultants bring years of experience to the table, with a full range of career services available. Résumés for Results are here to assist you to succeed.

Call us TODAY on 1800 155 895 or send us an email to find out more.

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