Like the majority of job seekers, you’ve probably run into an online application system or two since you’ve started your search. Application Tracker Software (ATS for short) may seem daunting at first, but there are many ways you get around their rigid methods of sorting candidates.
1. Use Keywords
These programs work by scanning out keywords in your resume. The surest way to make your CV pop up during the sorting process is to use as many of these keywords as you can.
You can find the keywords by carefully reading through the job description. Try to use the same kind of language and terms you see there. A well-written job listing will usually provide you with all the information you need.
2. Try Meeting Someone on the Inside
A great way to hack the system is by-passing it altogether. See if you have some acquaintances who work at the company you are interested in, or go to job fairs to find someone who can help you get the job of your dreams the old-fashioned way. Leaving your CV and cover letter with a recruiter is a sure way to avoid the ATS. And it also shows that you have a genuine interest for the job, which, no doubt, is going to make you shine in the eyes of your future employer.
If you can’t leave your resume with the recruiter straight away, make sure to ask for some contact info, like phone number and e-mail address. You can than send your CV and cover letter straight to them, and ask for updates on the status of your application.
If your CV still has to pass through an ATS before being reviewed by a recruiter, you will have an edge when it comes to spotting those all-important keywords. Talking to someone who already works at the company you are interested in can give you a hint as to what they are looking for.
3. Keep Your Layouts Simple
If you are submitting your own CV, rather than filling-in an online form, it’s a good idea to keep it as simple as possible. That means no fancy designs, no complicated fonts, just a nice, easy to read layout.
It’s a good idea to avoid writing any important information in the header or the footer, since a lot of these job application systems can’t read information contained there.
Using simple layouts is a good idea even when you’re submitting your resume to an actual recruiter. Complicated designs can give a really nice impression, but they’re risky. A nice, simple layout will always look stylish and organized.
4. Fill in All the Blanks
If you are using the form provided by the employer on their job listing, don’t leave anything out. You can never know what the program might find relevant, so be sure to have everything covered.
Most application systems also scan cover letters, so include a cover letter, even if it doesn’t seem that important. A well-written cover letter can give you advantage over candidates who didn’t put in the effort. Make sure to adapt the style of your cover letter for every employer.
Each one you write has to give the recruiter the feeling that you wrote it just for them. Varying the style of your cover letter and resume also helps you cast a wider net when it comes to finding keywords for the ATS. By using varied terms, you have a better chance of using one of the keywords the program is looking for. Just make sure not to go overboard, with really specific, or exotic terms.
Using an online job application software to your advantage is much easier than having to deal with a recruiter, in some ways. Even though you can’t really communicate with it, like you could with a human, the fact that these programs are completely unbiased, and have certain algorithms they follow, means you can easily find ways to make them work in your favor.