If you’ve been submitting resume after resume with no bites, it’s natural to be frustrated. And, of course, you want to know what you’re doing wrong.
It’s quite possible that there’s actually NOTHING you’re doing wrong. That said, there are some things you could be doing better.
One of those steps? Optimizing your resume for ATS.
Applicant tracking software (ATS) is a tool many businesses use to filter out applicants. It acts as a screening tool for human personnel. The software looks for specific words or phrases that the hiring manager has designated as must-haves for the role: experiences, skills, education and so on. The purpose is to identify potential fits without the recruiter or hiring manager having to peruse an overwhelming number of resumes.
But while it does make the process more efficient, ATS is not perfect. Still, given that approximately 75% of employers use the software, it’s important for you to optimize your resume with an eye on ATS.
Many positions have minimum educational (degree or certification) requirements. When listing out your credentials, be specific — for example, “Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics.” Spell it out completely, putting common acronyms in parentheses.
If your school uses a less common name for a field, defer to the more well-known synonym. For example, I have a BA in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins, but on my resume, I list it as “Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing.”
Your best source for ATS keywords is the job description itself. Comb the listing for words and phrases that stand out, highlighting ones that seem particularly important. Use the exact phrasing on your application (assuming you have these qualifications).
While soft skills are certainly important, ATS more commonly searches your application for hard or technical skills. These are keywords to include on your resume and cover letter, such as skills you’ve learned, credentials you’ve gained and tools you use.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include soft skills — when a human looks at your resume and cover letter, they will want to see them.
Make sure to add relevant, industry-specific keywords, too. Some will appear in the job description. Others are ones you may already be aware of working in your field. If you're new to the industry, try Googling job descriptions for similar roles in the field and/or asking professionals for advice.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.