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The software often reviews your resume when you apply online.  Here’s how to beat it.


Before you have the chance to be judged by a human hiring manager, your resume can be machine-filtered.

Application tracking systems, which are used to manage, sort and filter electronic job postings, are popular with employers who process high volumes of applications. A 2018 analysis of job postings from the online resume service Jobscan found that 98% of Fortune 500 companies used such a system.

If you are applying online for a job and the job posting URL includes names like Taleo, Workday, SuccessFactors, iCIMS, BrassRing, or ADP, you are applying through an applicant tracking system.

Like all human-managed systems, these programs are not perfect. In a 2016 survey of 374 human resources professionals, 62% admitted that some qualified candidates are likely screened by their software.

Sometimes these mistakes are not predictable, at least not for the job seeker. Patrick Foss of ThinkTalent Human Capital Partners, who advises clients on applicant tracking systems and other talent management technologies, cited one such example: when the person setting the parameters of a job sets the filter to require a bachelor’s degree, but not score any diploma above what would also be acceptable.

But you can prepare for other types of problems with applicant tracking systems. Here are three key ways to format your resume so that the follow-up program doesn’t reject you for no good reason.

1. Do not put information in the header and footer.

Putting your contact details in the header or footer of your CV might seem like an eye-catching way to get a recruiter’s attention, but it’s also a bad idea when faced with an applicant tracking system. according to experts.

“It’s so dangerous,” said Gala Jackson, certified executive leadership and career coach. “Inserting information into the header or footer of your document can lead to errors in applicant tracking systems. If you’ve ever received one of those immediate “Thank you, but no thanks” emails, it’s probably due to formatting. ”

The problem is that the software may not read information correctly or not at all if it appears in these top and bottom margins.

“Put your name and address at the top of the page just below where the header would fall, otherwise you can never be contacted because the software cannot read it,” said Virginia Franco, editor. nationally certified curriculum vitae.

“CV analyzers are looking for information in the field,” said Foss. “It shouldn’t matter, but if you put it in the header or footer, it may not capture it accurately.”

To format a resume for an applicant tracking system, don’t put information in the header like this.
The software often reviews your resume when you apply online.  Here’s how to beat it.
Instead, place this information directly below the header.

2. Don’t be creative with columns and charts.

There are many creative resume templates out there. But Ashley Watkins, a nationally certified resume writer, warned that excessive charts, tables and columns can be difficult for an applicant tracking system to analyze.

“This graphic is intended for the human reader only,” she said. “You can do this if you know your CV is being given directly to someone. ”

Watkins suggested a trick candidates can try to make sure their resume is software friendly: save it as an unformatted .txt document, then review it.

“If they can read it in there and all the information is there, nothing is deleted, then your CV can more than likely be read by the [applicant tracking system],” she said.

3. Align the keywords on your resume with the job description.

Read the job description and make sure the keywords used for the activities, titles and tools associated with the job are reflected in your own resume, said Alison Daley, Founder of a Technology Recruitment Training Platform. called Recruiting Innovation.

Don’t despair if your professional background is not the absolute ideal for this position.

“If they call the role a UX designer and you don’t have a UX designer title yet, then what can you do?” [is] focus on the other keywords in terms of experience, ”Daley said.

Or if you don’t have the bachelor’s degree stated in the job listing, you can always increase your chances by writing your relevant courses, experts advise.

How you format your employment history is also essential, Franco said. Applicant tracking software may not make certain leaps that are obvious to the human mind. So if you have held multiple positions with a single employer, Franco advised listing that business with each position. Otherwise, she said, “you run the risk that he may not be able to mark him as associated with this business.”

Making your resume easy to understand for an applicant tracking system is a small step in making the job search process easier.

Of course, another way to avoid the hassle of applicant tracking systems is to hand your resume straight into the hands of a hiring manager. Knowing someone in the company can give you a head start, as recommended candidates are twice as likely to be hired as other candidates applying through job boards, according to a 2014 Federal study. Reserve Bank of New York.

“My biggest tip for all of this is to try to bypass testing as much as possible,” Franco said. Consult your networks and contact directly. “And then it doesn’t matter if you get an amazing score or a horrible score, because you’ve got someone who’s willing to stand out from the crowd and present it to the right people.”

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