<Back to Blog

Is a Robot Handling Your Resume? —How to Keep Them at Bay.

September 06, 2016 - Posted to Resume Tips

Content is a robot handling your resume  how to keep them at bay.

Businesses are increasingly using ATS (applicant tracking software) to handle resumes that are submitted through their online portals. Although submitting applications online is a convenience for you, it can be overwhelming for the HR department to handle the hundreds of submissions that come through each day.

Developers, seeing this overwhelming need in the HR department have created software to handle your resumes.

The Drawbacks of ATS: Just What is ATS?

The ATS systems were developed due to the increase in job applications that flooded the market. Big businesses found them to be easier and more efficient than overloading their HR department with so many resumes.

The reason that businesses are using the ATS software is speed. The ATS are capable of speeding through your resumes and cover letters, reading them fast and looking for the words that the company has entered into a database. In turn the database only reads the resumes that have included the “keywords”.

Depending on the ATS that the company uses, your application may never be seen by a human being. The companies that use these applicant tracking systems have meticulously programmed them to be thorough in choosing only the best candidates for the job, and these candidates are those that know how to develop an ATS resume format. So out of 100 prospective applicants, the ATS system may only choose the top 10 according to keywords.

The Hiring Process

When trying to figure out what the ATS does, one needs to understand the process of getting hired. There are steps in the process that gets you to the HR department:

  1. A Company has a need

The first thing that happens is the needs of a department arises, and a job is created, or someone has left the company and an opening arises. The HR department then develops a job description.

  1. The Job is Published

After the need is established, the company publishes the job to the job boards, website, and to HR. This is when the job description is seen. This is the stage you do your research.

The job description is going to be filled with content that becomes gold when you begin developing your resume in the form of keywords.

  1. Applications pour in

Hundreds and maybe thousands of individuals start applying for the job, usually online. The largest companies and middle sized companies are prone to have the ATS systems in place, especially within the past few years when the economy pushed so many out of jobs and many more into job search mode.

  1. The ATS begins its job

This is when the ATS begins screening the applications for the best resumes that fit the qualifications keyed into its database. Those that do not make it past this step are sometimes lost, they may be trashed and sent into a place coined by applicants as the black hole.

As a back-up plan, although the big companies do not want to be hindered the slow way today with walk in applicants, walk in anyway, at least once. Seeing your face is a good way to get in the door.

Many applicants feel as though the ATS is flawed because they do not have the proper formatting for the system but are more than qualified for the job they are applying for. If you are not getting answers, you may possibly need professional help with your resume.

  1. Interviews

HR managers get the prescreened applicants on their desk and start calling in qualified applicants for interviews.

For the first interview, if you have not submitted a paper resume through snail-mail, this is the time to submit it to the interviewer. Make duplicates, so if they need to they can keep one on their desk and circulate the others throughout the office to various departments that may need your skills.

This resume should include a picture of yourself, unlike the one sent through the ATS system, and also a JIST card. When you come prepared like this it leaves a lasting impression on your interviewer.

Submitting too many applications at the same time can cause these interviews to pile up around the same time. It is recommended not to submit more than 10 in any given 30-day period, although some tend to send out 20-30 to cover every job posting they come across.

  1. Applicants Hired

After the initial interview an applicant is either hired or asked to come back for a second look. If the applicant proves unfit for the position, the process begins again. This is another good reason to make sure you bring extra resumes and JIST cards. You may not fit that particular position, but assure the interviewer that you are willing to take what they have available. Get your foot in the door, then move up if possible.

What’s Next?

Call the company after a few weeks have passed to see if they have gotten your resume, it may be still in the system and they may be able to pull it up.

This is the time to submit to another five companies if your initial 10 have not answered you. Although we suggest not submitting too much so that there is not any overlap when interviews start coming in, we don’t want you to stop looking either. So develop a plan of pacing your submissions.

There is usually a time frame on their website for them to respond to you. If they have not gotten back to you by this time, your resume has been overlooked by the system and is in the black hole of the system unless it is programmed to look twice.

Tricks to Keep from Hearing Crickets/ Formatting Your ATS Resume

Gone are the days that we showed up to businesses and waited patiently in the lobby to see prospective employers, looked them in the eye and was able to show them how hungry we were for a position. Today we have to make sure that we format our resumes so that they past a computers’ inspection before a humans’.

Although there are holes in every list of suggestions you use online, we hope that these will get you started on the way to dodging those ATS systems and getting your resume into the hands of a HR manager.

  • Make a list of keywords that have to do with the job description. Your resume has to be treated like a blog page. In order for a blog page to be seen it must be treated with SEO (search engine optimization). This is the time to use a professional resume developer or certified professional resume writers if you do not know how to use SEO.

When using an online professional resume developer, make sure you submit all information possible for the best outcome. Choose a company that has good communication with their customers and allows for do-overs in case the one that they do for you is not working.

  • No matter how many questions are on the application, complete them all. Do not give the robot an opportunity to throw your application away due to blank input. You may have chosen a company that has programmed its ATS to throw away blank input resumes.
  • Read through the requirements and job description more than once, and if you do your own resume, get someone to go over it that has skills in resume writing.
  • While answering these questions, sprinkle your keywords sparingly but throughout your answers. Answer with seamless wording, within well-structured sentences.
  • If your questions are about location, include the word “location” in your answer. This will make the ATS recognize the word that is already programmed into its database. Do this with all of the words you use in your answers, for instance:

Location: I am located in the Philadelphia area but am willing to relocate to the company location.

  • ATS are not big on fancy formatting, so remove any tables, graphs, pictures, etc. If you feel you need to show these things to a prospective employer. Send your paper resume after submitting the online resume. Put it in a large business envelope marked “Do not Fold-Important”

Although many businesses do not want resumes submitted through the mail, if they do not specifically ask that you do not submit through the mail, send it.

  • When typing in your name also use your title or the title that you are looking to fill, such as: Arthur Banks, Sales Consultant, Margaret Puttlin, HR Consultant, Robert Grobin, Teaching Consultant. Give your ATS words to latch onto when the job description is looking for a consultant.
  • This is the time your grammar has to be on point, although you should always make sure it is. The ATS is not going to be able to tell what you meant to say and may reject your resume due to error.

Do not rely on the word processor to catch misspelled words and grammar mistakes. Read your application and resume out loud before submitting.

  • List all of your previous employment in reverse chronological order, only listing what is relevant to the position you are seeking. Even if it is a career change resume. Use wording that is going to make the ATS pick up on keywords for that position, such as, internship as gynecologist, or, manager of a major retail chain. Include the title you have held and its abbreviations.
  • You will need to use keywords that you find in the job description, but don’t overuse them. This is a form of stuffing and it will get your resume rejected.
  • Use headings for each section of your resume but use them seamlessly with not a lot of unique letting or formatting.
  • Stick to the usual fonts such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Lucinda, or Tahoma, and always use black color on your ATS resume.
  • Unless requested, keep your information inside the body of your resume instead of the header of footer, and save as a word doc. or txt. File.
  • Although you may be used to inserting them, steer clear of page numbers, your resume should not be more than 2 pages in length, besides the application issued by the company, so as not to confuse your ATS.
  • Keep in mind that your resume is not only going to be seen by the ATS system, but if it makes it past it, it will be seen by the HR manager. Write plainly for the system but also with the human touch in mind.

Before submitting your application or resume to any business, take your time and do your research. There are many sites online today that realize that these robots are being used and have free templates to help you develop your resume for optimal use by the ATS systems.

A check is a check is a check.

If you have yet to get that coveted job, there are still small companies out there that do not use the ATS systems that are looking for hard working individuals. Until you get the job you are dreaming of, get the jobs that you can. You have to eat and make ends meet. Be patient and don’t give up. Get help with your resume if your need to and good luck in your search.