For a few years the new buzz word in training for resume writers is how to write a resume to get through the ATS system.
ATS is “applicant tracking system,” which is kind of like JibberJobber for the recruiter. They aren’t tracking a relationship with YOU as much as they are tracking specific job openings, who applies, and who gets to have an interview with a human.
I guess that is tracking you, kind of. But only as far as that specific opportunity goes. There is no relationship nurturing going on… it’s all about filling open jobs, and weeding out the high percentage of people who shouldn’t have applied in the first place.
You can imagine how resume writers want to write a resume that will get through the ATS, and eventually get to the live person. I haven’t completely wrapped my brain around the technology, but I’ve understood that most jobs people are hired for are with companies that are smaller, and might not even know what ATS means. I’ve focused my advice more on networking into a job than on monkeying around with your resume to get it better (which I call “hiding from your job search,” since you can do that for days and weeks and not really get any closer to getting an interview).
But I keep my ears open to what the experts are saying, and am always looking for any information I can share with you. When I saw this article on LinkedIn from Louise Kursmark, I knew it would have important information. I think this is a super-important perspective because she is a well-known resume writer who has trained hundreds, maybe thousands, of resume writers. Louise gave me permission to repost her article here (original post)… I hope this helps you with your job search strategy today!
ATS: I Couldn’t Care Less
ATS – Applicant Tracking Systems – cause a lot of twitter and chatter among job seekers and resume writers. I might even call it an obsession about finding the keywords, mimicking the job posting, and designing the document to get through the automated screener.
Personally, I think that obsession is a distraction from the real work of job search.
Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview. That’s because your resume is one of dozens or even hundreds competing for just a handful of top slots. It’s likely at least a few other candidates will have qualifications that are slightly stronger or a background that’s just a bit closer to the ideal specified by the recruiter or employer.
So it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool. And when you don’t, you feel frustrated, discouraged, maybe even depressed and angry.
My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS. Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.
Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue. Rather than applying for a job, have a conversation about the company’s needs and how someone with your background might be able to help. Become a real person rather than a piece of paper or collection of keywords.
Chances are very good that you’ll be able to parlay many of those conversations into actual interviews for real jobs. Even if you don’t, you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.
And isn’t it more satisfying to have a colleague-to-colleague business discussion than to be judged (and rejected) based on a mysterious set of keyword qualifications?
Thank you, Louise, for a real perspective and great advice! There really is no way around doing some of the hard work in the job search!