I recruited back when ATS wasn’t screening candidates or acting as a proverbial gatekeeper like some of the sophisticated ones that exist today do.
I get it, companies would like to ease the burden of unmatched potentials from leaking into the daily recruiter screening routine.
Time is money.
Time less spent on the other 20+ open requisitions.
However, let’s not make the ATS this mystical, magical software that takes a lot of brainpower to figure out.
It’s quite simple, really.
Back when I recruited, it would literally just house the applicants who applied overnight or during work so I could review.
I could also type notes in the candidate’s digital file housed on this ATS.
I could then type a search term into a field and locate said candidate (and other applicants that matched other openings over multiple years) using specific “buzzwords” based on the job description.
I’d call the candidate, vet them and consider sending them to the hiring manager. Believe me, I hoped EVERY candidate fit the profile when I called them because the resume got me interested. Fill rates and time-to-close ratios were monitored closely.
Speaking of KPIs, I like resumes with numbers (data), skills that matched keywords on my job description (ATS leverage), and accomplishments that were similar to the ones required in the role (resonation).
So allow me to share some quick tips to help ease the burden and stress from the overblown beast that is the applicant tracking system:
✏️ KEEP IT CLEAN: No headers, footers, graphics, borders, charts, text boxes, photos, or columns. ATS needs to be able to parse the data from the application into your digital profile. Rather, use that infographic resume as an addendum to your application along with the cover letter, any annexures, and PDF of your resume.
✏️ FORMATTING: Keep consistent headers and format the resume’s text and font size with precise accuracy throughout.
✏️ BUZZWORDS: Reverse-engineer the job description, and sprinkle in those relevant keywords onto the resume to match higher and improve visibility rankings on the company website or LinkedIn/Indeed applications. Think operational skills, technical aptitude, or role methodologies. But do not fib!
✏️ .DOC: Apply to the role with a Word document.
Remember, the through-line of your resume.
You need to show:
✔ Why you’re worth them paying you to do the job.
✔ Why you are going to be their Tylenol to their headaches because of the opening.
✔ Why you are going to make their life easier if they hired you.
Start keeping a Brag Book if you don’t already.
Start listing some of those accomplishments and skills that relate to the next role you have in mind.
Start tracking any operational impacts you’ve had, especially metrics from performance reports. Think continuous improvements or monetary impacts.
Start remembering board memberships, continuing education, awards, special internal and external customer kudos, featured shoutouts on the company website, the newsletter, or local news, or speeches at company or industry functions.
Weave these into the resume, then use it as a crutch during the interview to better position your narratives. These will resonate more with the hiring team because it hits home with them. Plus, it builds confidence because you know what you are going to say.
Use the resume as the meal that was delivered to their table.
Use the interview to then talk about the ingredients of the wonderful meal you’ve prepared.
Let me help you prepare this meal!
Remember, from a macro standpoint, keep thinking about every message, every interview, every discussion, how have you added value and how are you going to alleviate their pains?
🍔 Be ready for when the time comes to have your meal ready.
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