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Getting Your Resume Through an ATS



Even in this time of high technology and artificial intelligence, the resume remains the very best tool to sell yourself to a company, let them know who you are and what you’ve done, and hopefully help you to land the job. Being precise and specific, not too wordy, and staying on point are all ways to help your resume get chosen. But you must also be aware of how to get through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that many companies use to screen out resumes that aren’t the right fit for the position. As the above graphic illustrates, companies use an ATS to streamline the resume review process to hopefully help them to arrive at the best candidates before staring the interview process. It isn’t an exact science, and many times the very best candidates can be screened out because they haven’t tailored their resumes correctly to get through the screening and into the hiring manager’s hands.


According to JobScan, over 98.8% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS, while 66% of large companies and 35% of small companies rely on an ATS to help them fill their open jobs. So, it stands to reason that job seekers should take the time to learn how to navigate these systems and get their resume into the right hands and land an interview. It can be as easy as making sure that you include keywords from the job description in your resume. For example, if the job includes licensing in the description, be sure that you have the word licensing in your resume at least once so that it gets picked up. Some other tips to get through these systems include:


Keep your resume simple and concise. Use MS Word or Google Docs, and steer clear of fancy graphics. You want the words to take center stage and not muddle things with too much other stuff. And use a standard resume template. There are a ton available online. Think streamlined!


Again, make sure to include as many important keywords from the job description as possible. It still needs to read and flow easily, so don’t over-do it. Remember that at some point it will be read by a human, so it needs to read well so they want to talk with you.


Spell and grammar check are super important. Not just for the ATS but for the person eventually reading it. As a recruiter, I immediately toss any resume with errors on it. If you can’t take the time to be sure your resume is perfect, then what kind of employee are you going to be for my client. Super important!


Don’t apply to too many jobs with the same company. And don’t apply for jobs that you aren’t qualified for! When I am reviewing candidates in an ATS and I see they have applied for like 15 jobs, it looks like the throw it up against the wall and see what sticks philosophy instead of someone who is a clear and direct thinker.


Many ATS will allow you to upload your resume, and it will auto populate the information so you don’t have to. But some still make you enter certain info anyway. Take the time to do it, or you will be automatically disqualified. They are testing you! Do you have the patience and follow through to do it right, or are you just lazy and looking for a shortcut? Very telling.



These are just a few tips to be aware of. For more specific ideas and tips, book a strategy session with me and we can customize your resume to help get through the ATS and help get you the job.


Ron Milman is the Principal of Milman Search Group, a leading National Recruiting/Staffing/Coaching agency efficiently filling positions for companies across a wide variety of industries and specialties, and coaching career seekers. Check them out at www.milmansearch.com or contact Ron directly at ron@milmansearch.com.



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