Resume Writing: What You Need To Know About ATS

When resumes come into any company, whether electronically or on paper, they are entered into an applicant tracking system (ATS), a software program that searches for keywords that apply to the open job position. You might think in that case you should simply submit of list of words to beat the ATS at its own game: “You want words, here are words.” That may have worked with the oldest ATS; the newer systems look for context. They look for the position of the keyword (in the far past of your career or recently) and may even examine the surrounding words for a hint you are actually familiar with the subject. I recently had a conversation with Jon Ciampi, President of Preptel Corporation. His company has a product that uses algorithms and software from ATS to parse resumes and then allow people to see how their resumes compare with the competition’s. He emphasizes you can put sections of your resume in any order (Summary, Experience, Education or Summary Education, Experience) but the way those sections are formatted can become a huge roadblock. With too much formatting or the wrong formatting, your resume content may be ignored by the ATS. Jon says, “PDF is error prone as data structure is not standardized. PDF saves data as an image and requires a converter to translate it into text. This process causes many issues and is inaccurate. While ATS can accept PDF files, Word or ASCII is still the best document type. Graphics, tables, images, and charts should all be avoided. These items are usually interpreted incorrectly and can cause the process to fail, discarding the entire resume.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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