Many people don’t realize that when they submit their resumes or job applications online, it is very unlikely that someone will ever read it. That’s because applications for most publicly posted job ads go through what’s called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). ATS is a special software that scans your resume or application for keywords and information to determine whether you are a good fit for the job.
Here’s the problem: The software is highly imperfect. Even if you are a highly qualified candidate for the job, an ATS system is unlikely to know it unless you format your resume in a specific way, and include certain keywords and information.
As a result, many qualified job candidates slip through the cracks and never get a chance to make their case. So how do you avoid having your resume lost in the shuffle?
Common mistakes and how to avoid them
Although there are no guarantees, the following three steps will greatly increase the chances that your resume will be seen by a hiring manager:
- Read the job ad carefully… and include the keywords you see within. Modify your resume to use the same terms and phrasing you see in the job posting… so if you have experience writing “marketing plans” and the employer wants someone who can write “marketing strategies,” you should consider changing your wording accordingly.
- Don’t include important info in document headers, tables or charts. Many ATS systems cannot read information within correctly — which is a serious problem if you have your name and contact info in a header, or important job information inside a chart.
- Be especially mindful of spelling mistakes. Not only will they look unprofessional, but they will also prevent keywords from being read properly by the software, which will penalize you and decrease your chances of having your resume seen.