By Sean Weinberg
Your resume has a lot of enemies. Between competitors, scrutinizing employers, and computer crashes, your resume has to look out for itself.
Unfortunately, your resume has yet another enemy to worry about: an ATS.
An ATS, also known as an applicant tracking system, is "a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs." In other words, an ATS is what employers turn to when there are simply too many applicants and not enough time to sort through them all.
While ATS's are helpful for stressed out employers, they can be lethal for your resume. You might be the best person for the job, but if your resume can't convince the ATS, then you're out of luck.
However, there are ways to beat the ATS with your resume. Check out what you can do:
Choose your words carefully
Your word choice is, by far, the most important key to beating the ATS. Just like your blog, keywords matter. Pick keywords that are in-demand in your industry along with ones that you find in the job posting.
Additionally, pick "in work" keywords whenever possible. When you write about your time "keeping current with day-to-day tasks" or "presenting new products", your resume says in the here and now to the ATS.
Last but not least, drop titles (when it fits). If you are a good fit for one position but are coming from one with a different title, try including "similar to the responsibilities required of [insert title here]." You’re not lying about your experience, but the ATS will see you as more qualified for the position.
Count it out
Words are great, but numbers are even better. No, I don't mean your resume should be in binary (though that would be awesome).
Instead, numbers are solid, persuasive evidence of your qualifications. There's no disputing when you sold XX% in X months. Most employers are about the bottom line, so numbers help make that connection.
Make it readable
One monkey wrench that comes with ATS is that the first reader of your resume is a computer. Technology is moving in leaps and bounds, but even today, your resume might not be readable.
Selecting a universal font like Calibri, Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman, or Helvetica can help circumvent this obstacle. Additionally, avoiding excessive formatting (text boxes need not apply) and using a common format (like .doc or .pdf) can help make your resume as legible as possible.
What do you think? How else can job seekers help their resume fight the ATS? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Sean Weinberg is the COO and co-founder of RezScore, a free Web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes -- instantly. Also the founder of Freedom Resumes, Weinberg has dedicated his career to helping job seekers write the best possible resumes. You can connect with Sean and the RezScore team on Facebook and Twitter.