To help recruiters manage the overwhelming amount of resumes they receive, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Talent Acquisition Systems (TAS) are being utilized more frequently. Although this technology is a phenomenal tool in helping recruiters make their workload more manageable, these tools can sometimes accidentally weed out candidates that are qualified for the job opening. This issue can cause candidates to wonder why they weren’t good enough for a position when in reality; their resume may have been screened out and was never seen by a recruiter in the first place. It has been determined that this accidental screening-out of resumes is simply caused by resume formatting that isn’t compatible with the ATS and TAS software. In order to increase chances of having your resume getting through this screening, you must format your resume properly.
After speaking to a few IT professionals that deal with these systems, I was able to compile a few tips on how to format your resume in a favorable way:
- Save it in a format that allows editable text: For example, Word documents may be the best format to save it in. Other formats, such as a PDF, can make it hard for the ATS/TAS system to pull information from it. Additionally, sometimes recruiters need to adjust some things on your resume (i.e. grammatical errors) before passing it along to the hiring manager. Therefore, editable versions of your resume would be best to submit.
- Do not use templates: different word processor software and career sites have resume templates created for your convenience. This is a great way to learn how to lay out your resume in a clean, easy-to-read format but using the template can actually cause issues during the screening process. The pre-formatting of these templates are not easily readable by the software, so it’s best to only use the template for ideas on how to lay it out (but don’t actually use them).
- Keep it clean: As mentioned before, do not use the templates but ensure that your “free-hand” format is clean. Make sure you break up your sections, such as education and work experience, in a clean and easy-to-read way. Be sure to label them accordingly.
- Use keywords: One of the biggest screening criteria for these tools is the keyword optimization. ATS and TAS will compare your resume against the job description to see how relevant your experience is. Take the time to review the job description and tweak some of your verbiage to match what the description has. This can help create a higher percentage for candidate/job match.
Seeing that more companies and job boards are using ATS and TAS, it may be in your best interest to reformat your resume to work best in your favor. These little tips can really make all the difference. Additionally, it can help your job search by ensuring you aren’t wrongfully screened out for a job that you are qualified for due to a format that is unreadable by the systems.