If you were not aware of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) when you created your resume, you may not have created an ATS-friendly version. This is especially likely if you used a template to create your resume. Templates are often created to allure human readers, but don't always take into account the limitations of applicant tracking systems.
As you may be aware, 99% of Fortune 500 companies utilize an ATS in their hiring process. Many small and medium-sized companies are also using applicant tracking systems. The way these computer programs are used can vary considerably from company to company. In some cases, a human will read every resume submitted and only use the ATS as a filing cabinet. Other companies use the ATS to reduce the number of resumes that need to be reviewed for a job opening by scanning for specific keywords or using questions to eliminate people that don't have the right skills or experiences. As a job seeker, you don't have insight into how the ATS is being used, so you need to be sure you are submitting an ATS friendly resume.
Here are some suggested changes you can make to your resume to ensure that if an ATS is used, it can successfully bring your resume in.
Remove Content from the Header and Footer
Many templates have you put your contact information in the header. However, applicant tracking systems often do not bring in information that is contained in the header or footer. Therefore, information such as your name, phone number and email address may not be retained with your resume in the system. Make sure you have that information contained within the body of your document.
Eliminate Tables, Columns and Graphics
While tables, columns and graphics make the resume more appealing to the human reader, applicant tracking systems often can not parse information in these formats. Therefore, the information will not be seen after the resume is brought into the ATS. If you are emailing a resume directly to someone, it is OK to include important content in the form of tables, columns or graphics. However, if you are submitting your resume online, you should assume it will be read by an ATS and make sure you eliminate these items and just provide a text version.
Use Standard Headings
An ATS is going to bring the content from your resume in and organize it based on the headings you have provided. So, if you try to get creative with your section headings, you may confuse the ATS and the content may end up not organized properly. Stick with common headings, such as "Executive Summary," "Work Experience," and "Education."
Need help editing your resume so it is ATS friendly? Revision Resume provides both resume creation and resume critique services to assist job seekers. Contact us to learn more.