One of the most difficult steps in job searching is getting your resume noticed. In fact, up to 75% of resumes are never even seen by a human. The majority of companies now use “Applicant Tracking Systems” (ATS for short).
ATS is a software that scans resumes and ranks them by what it perceives as the most qualified candidates for the position. This software allows employers to filter through hundreds of resumes for each job posting. It also results in many resumes, including from qualified candidates, to never be seen.
These days, it’s important to understand how to optimize your resume for ATS as well as steps that you can take to have your resume read by a flesh-and-blood human.
Here’s how to beat ATS systems and get your resume noticed:
Tailor your resume for the job posting
This is advice that has been around before ATS was so common. With ATS, it is even more important to make sure you tailor your resume for each individual job posting.
These software platforms rank resumes based on “keywords” that are set up by the job poster (usually HR or a recruiter). Based on these keywords, the software ranks each resume on how applicable the listed experience is to the job application.
It is very similar to Google. Think about how when you Google something you get a ranked list of webpages based on how likely they are to answer your inquiry.
The keywords that are used in ATS are typically the same ones as you find in the job posting. When you tailor your resume to a specific job posting, make sure you are using the same descriptors and words to outline your experience.
Remember, always be honest about your qualifications. But if you do meet a requirement listed on the job posting, use the same words on your resume. For example, if a job posting asks for “experience scheduling organic social posts on platforms including Facebook and Twitter” ensure that your resume states “scheduling organic social posts” when you describe your experience and previous projects.
Using this strategy will optimize your resume for ATS. In turn, this will improve how the software ranks your resume. This results in a higher chance that your resume will actually be read by a human rather than just software.
Get a referral for the job
Almost a third of all employees hired are found through a referral. Typically, you can get a referral through a connection you have to someone that works at that company. But did you know that you don’t need to actually know someone to get a referral?
One of the most important things to do after applying to a job is to search for employees at that company on LinkedIn. If it is a large company, it’s important to search in the same geographic area as the job posting.
If you don’t have a 1st or 2nd connection to anyone at the company, don’t fret. A great strategy is to send a message to a handful of people that would be potential HR representative, team members, or even a hiring manager for that position. You’re trying to target individuals that are either working on the job posting or employees that would work with the individual hired.
You will need a LinkedIn Premium account to message individuals outside your network, but it is a well-worth investment for a job seeker.
Be genuine in your outreach
Let the individual know that you applied to a job posting (include a link to the posting) and that you are very excited to learn more about the opportunity. Include a sentence or two for why you are a great candidate. Don’t oversell yourself. Attach the resume that you used for the job posting.
At the end of your message, ask them whether they are able to connect you to someone that can tell you more about the open position. That’s it!
Not everyone will respond. In fact, most people don’t. But what they often do is forward your message to someone responsible for the job posting. Now, your resume is sitting directly in someone’s inbox rather than being filtered through the software.
These tips, tailoring your resume with keywords and reaching out to LinkedIn, will be the best investment of your time as a job seeker.
Happy Job Hunting!