Recruiter Tips for Tackling the Robots Reading Resumes

Ever wondered if anyone even laid eyes on that resume you sent two weeks ago? Many job seekers eagerly wait for a response and wonder where their application ends up. As a recruiter at Simply Hired I’m here to tell you what happens after you hit the submit button.

The good news: Don’t worry. We received your resume. It’s not lost.

The bad news: Many factors come into play before your resume gets seen by human eyes.

1. After you send your resume it enters an online system

Before a recruiter ever sees your resume it meets a robot called the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which contains a large database of candidate information that helps streamline the recruiting process for an organization.

Most companies, particularly large companies, use this technology because it’s a cost-efficient way to keep all the applications in one place and manage the entire recruiting process. The ATS adds you to its system and takes the content in your resume and scores you based on how closely you meet the recruiter’s needs. What does this mean for you? It means you need a resume that is robot and recruiter friendly.

2. Formatting is just as important as content

Inside the ATS, recruiters choose and enter the particular skills and qualifications they’re looking for in a given position. You want to match these desires with keywords that are in the job description. You can have all the right qualifications, but if the ATS can’t read your resume then you will be at a disadvantage.

A few key tips for an optimized resume:

  • Use keywords in the body of the text and throughout the entire resume when appropriate. The ATS picks up on context and relevance based on placement of the keywords. Use the language the company is using. If they’re calling it “online marketing” your resume shouldn’t be calling it “content marketing.”
  • Use easy-to-read standard fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Proper punctuation and spelling matter.
  • The universally accepted file format is a .doc extension. This format is the safest bet, as the ATS is sure to recognize your information.

The way you enter your resume is important. Always upload your resume directly into the system instead of typing your information into each field. This way the ATS can automatically populate your information, making it easier on the entire submission process, for you and the ATS.

3. The ATS tracks everything you do

Once you’re in the system, recruiters have total visibility of your activity, from replying to emails to applying to multiple jobs at the same company. The ATS provides a dashboard that tracks all of this. Applying to multiple positions with wildly different resumes could hurt your chances of getting hired. It will make you seem unfocused in your job search, and it will call attention to any resume discrepancies. Also, if you reply to the hiring manager, the recruiter can see this and vice versa.

The silver lining for you is that you also have a dashboard. You can login to whatever ATS you applied through and track how many job positions you have applied to and see where you stand on the application process. Just be careful with your applications and interactions with hiring managers or recruiters. Always keep a professional tone and make sure your resume is an honest representation of your skills and experience.

4. The ATS is used in many ways

With all of the advanced technology available in the ATS, sometimes it’s simply used as a database for keeping track of applicants. Often the “percent match score” is not the final verdict. Recruiters tend to trust their own instincts over a machine’s evaluation.

The “percent match score” is more likely to come into play when there’s a large quantity of applications, a recruiter finds a good resume and does not go through the rest. This is a disadvantage for most job seekers but don’t be discouraged, because…

5. In the end, timing does matter

There is an element of serendipity. It’s best to apply when you first see a job posting because you have a higher likelihood of being seen first. However, don’t feel reluctant to apply to older jobs. Older job postings could signify that the recruiter had no luck with previous candidates.

The takeaway from all this? A lot goes on behind the scenes, and you can’t control what happens after you hit submit. But you can prepare for the ATS, have realistic expectations and be mindful of your actions during the application process. The best thing you can do is make sure your resume clearly reflects your value and stay positive throughout the whole process.

Good luck with your job search, and please comment below if you have any questions.