Understanding ATS to Give Your Resume an Edge

Working on your resume is often a time consuming and tedious process, but when your final product is ready you can feel a sense of supreme accomplishment. Those carefully chosen headers that match the perfect font you downloaded just for this can feel almost like finishing a great painting or work of art. Then you submit your masterpiece and receive a generic “Materials Received” notice and after that, nothing. This is mainly because of Applicant Tracking Systems, as called ATS.


Even with all your careful design and fonts you still don’t even get an interview. It’s frustrating to say the least, and very depressing too. Well, you are not alone in this feeling. All too often applying for work can feel like sailing a ship without the rudder: frustrating and out of your control.


Applicant Tracking Systems for Selecting Candidates


Is your lack of connections to blame? The sheer amount of other applicants too high? “They can’t read my amazing resume because there are too many!” Or, is your resume not being read at all? Applicant Tracking Systems are the norm for many company’s hiring process in today’s market, even fast food jobs and other minimum wage positions. These systems are gatekeepers between you and your dream job. In order to give your resume an edge up on the competition, you first need to know what an ATS is, where to find the right keywords, and how to use it when writing your résumé.


What is ATS?


ATS stands for Applicant Tracking Systems and is used by employers to filter out candidates for interviews. It is an algorithm-based system that searches for specific keywords and phrases in a résumé. As this is a computer software program, you cannot use words similar to the keywords, they often have to be the exact keywords; otherwise the computer will discard your résumé. Once the words or phrases have been found, the computer will score the résumé and move on to the next round, sifting until only a certain number of résumés are left.


Employers tend to use Applicant Tracking Systems because they make the work of filling a job position easier. All employers have to do is provide the keywords or phrases, determine how high the scores should be and then wait. When it comes down to it, looking through 30 résumés as opposed to 300 is far easier. You want your resume to be one of those 30, and understanding the ATS is the way to do it.


How Do I find Applicant Tracking System Keywords?


ATS keywords and phrases will be found in the job description and position responsibilities listed on the job posting. You will want to scan for information in bullet points, and any certifications required. For example: a teacher will likely need to have state certification, or need to “Develop, plan and prepare classroom material.” It is also helpful to look for keywords and phrases that already describe something you do. Using job specific lingo can also help your résumé score higher. Overall, having an understanding of the language in your industry can go a long way.


Where Do I Use ATS?


Now it can seem very tempting to filling your resume with nothing but keywords and phrases, but don’t fall for it. Applicant Tracking Systems are sophisticated enough to recognize nonsense repetition and even if they weren’t, the goal is to get your resume into a person hands.


Chances are, the hiring official will not be impressed by keywords and phrases repeating themselves in your résumé. Instead, try to use the keywords and phrases to describe vital information. You want your resume to describe your skills, accomplishments and strong points. You want the person reading the resume to find the value you offer the team.

At the end of the day, the goal of understanding ATS is an old one; getting your resume into an employers hands. Before submitting your application for a job, you should review the job posting and your resume for ATS keywords. Having the right words for the job you are applying for can help give your résumé an edge on the competition and get you that much closer to an interview.


Hire a Skilled Resume Writer


At El Paso Professional Resumes, we are skilled and knowledgeable on a wide range of industries. We understand the value of utilizing strong writing and understanding keywords when we write resumes. In fact, the majority of our clients get referred and interviewed within weeks of leaving our office. If you want to cut down on the time and stress of writing your resume, using our services can give you peace of mind. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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