New to the job market? Looking for your next gig after years at your most recent role? Or maybe you’re happy in your current position, yet you’re still open to other interesting opportunities and wouldn’t mind if a recruiter got in touch.
Here’s something you need to know: These days, there’s almost always a robotic gatekeeper standing between your resume and an actual human’s eyeballs.
First, there’s the applicant tracking system, or ATS. It’s a type of software that recruiters and organizations use to manage and streamline the screening and hiring processes. These platforms typically use machine learning and artificial intelligence to quickly scan candidates’ submissions and identify prospects who align with specific job criteria. Recruiters also dip into their ATS to review past job applicants when new roles open up within an organization.
Then, there are various kinds of digital screening and sourcing tools that outbound recruiters use to find you wherever you are online, whether that’s LinkedIn, other social media platforms, career sites like Monster and Indeed, industry-specific destinations like GitHub and Medium, or elsewhere. As the job market evolves, recruiters are leaning more heavily into outbound approaches to find candidates, rather than simply waiting for talent to come to them through a traditional application process. They often use technology-driven solutions like RecruitBot to automate this outreach and sort through the endless collection of resumes, profiles, and assorted data points across the internet (and within their internal ATS).
Whether you’re hoping to get your resume past an ATS or catch the eye of an outbound recruiter, it’s more important than ever to optimize the information you share about your skills and experience. Here are five things to keep in mind as you refine your resume or profile:
- Use keywords that are relevant to the job you’re applying for or want to be recruited for. When you browse through job descriptions that appeal to you, what are the skills, credentials, titles, and terms that show up over and over again? Call these out explicitly in your resume or profile so the ATS or sourcing software will understand that you’re an ideal match. Each time you apply for a different role, tailor your resume to mirror key language from the posting.
- Keep your information up to date. Even if you’re not actively looking right now, refresh your online career profiles with keywords that capture your latest achievements, training experiences, and areas of expertise. And always, always make sure your contact details are current so recruiters can get in touch. If you are looking, refresh often; most systems prioritize candidates that have changed their data recently. (Remember that they may reach out via social media instead of email or phone, so you’ll want to check those inboxes regularly and tweak your settings to receive alerts about new messages.)
- Format your resume in a simple, easy-to-read manner, using a clear, professional font and font size. Fancy graphics, special formatting, and ornate text styles can confuse the sourcing systems and ATSes. If you’re applying for a job, always submit the file type specified in the posting, such as a Word document or PDF. Avoid putting critical information in headers, footers, or tables, since an ATS can miss them entirely.
- Use organizing techniques like bullet points and chronological order to list educational achievements, professional credentials, and job history. This helps ensure that the ATS or outbound recruiting tool doesn’t inadvertently convert your neat and tidy profile into incomprehensible blocks of text.
- Remember that it’s not just about the automated tool or ATS! If your application, resume, or profile makes it through the initial screening technology, a real person will eventually read the information you share. Focus on crafting a compelling and genuine narrative to help ensure your success when you get to that stage. Because at the end of the day, most humans appreciate good stories more than robots do.
Try out these simple tips now to increase your chances of making a meaningful connection with your next employer.