More and more, companies are relying on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to receive, store, and filter resumes. When you apply for a job at a company that uses an ATS, your resume automatically goes into one of these databases. Then, when a hirer wants to review resumes, he or she types in keywords specific to the job to search for relevant candidates. Because this technology is becoming more and more common, it is vital that job seekers use keywords and text-only formats to make sure their resumes get chosen from ATS systems.Keywords
In addition to the skills, accomplishments, and other text you normally include on your resume, also incorporate additional keywords to make sure that your resume includes all possible words that a hirer might search for. These keywords include alternate job titles, computer programs relevant to your profession, markets and industries, and even geographical locations. If your goal is to relocate to a foreign country as a television producer, you might consider “TV,” “media,” “broadcasting,” “international,” and “relocate” as possible keywords to include in your resume. List keywords at the very bottom of your resume to improve your resume’s chances of passing the ATS system screens.
An ASCII, or text-only, format strips your resume of all formatting, such as borders, underlining, and bullets. Many ATS systems use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that “reads” your resume. Any formatting on your application may hamper the OCR’s ability to understand the resume content, and will instead translate as garbled symbols. To maximize the readability of your resume, be sure to send your documents pasted in the body of the email in ASCII format.
Making a text-only version of your resume is simple:
- Open your resume in MS Word.
- Save the resume as Text-only or Plain Text with Line Breaks, and include “text version” in the file name to help you differentiate this file from your formatted resume.
- Open your text resume. The bullets will show up as boxes, question marks, or asterisks. “Find” and “replace” all of these symbols with an asterisk.
- Save your ASCII resume.
Your text-only resume may not look beautiful, but it will be functional and will be easily read by ATS systems.
By knowing how many employers receive and store your resume, you can improve your chances of making sure your resume lands in the hands of hirers, and doesn’t disappear into a black hole.