* Do you wonder how the online process works?
* Are you unsure of who “sees” your resume once you “cut and paste your résumé here”?
* How is this process different from direct contact with the employer?

The Online Process
Many hiring authorities are using a software application system that enables the electronic handling job applications. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS)  is  designed to allow companies to determine which candidates may be a match for a particular position, based on their résumé.  This system fulfills two purposes: to manage applications for positions (especially where there is a high volume of applicants), and to screen out candidates who lack the required skills for the job.

ATS systems also provide hiring managers with metrics and data which can improve the hiring process and can facilitate internal communication among hiring professionals — allowing those with access to the system to share applicant résumés and notes.

Who “Sees” Your Resume?
Any time new technology is introduced into the hiring process, there is concern among jobseekers about what it means. It’s important to remember that technology is often used as a means to facilitate one goal: To make the hiring process more effective and efficient.

In the case of applicant tracking systems, the goal is to help hiring managers and recruiters more easily identify candidates with the skills, education, and experience that are most desired of candidates. Just like you want the most relevant search results returned when you type a query into Google, the hiring manager doesn’t want to sift through hundreds or thousands of résumés to find the handful of people he or she really wants to talk to. So if you focus your goal on ensuring you are the best fit for the types of positions you are seeking, the things that will make you findable in applicant tracking systems will already be in your résumé and cover letter — because they are important qualifications for the type of position you are seeking.

The appeal of an ATS for those doing the hiring is clear. Looking for a candidate with specific skills? Type them into a database and receive a targeted list of candidates with exactly those skills.

Unfortunately, the reality hasn’t quite panned out that way. These applicant tracking systems are limited by the information they acquire from jobseeker résumés. If the résumés aren’t structured in a way that fits the applicant tracking system, they can enter a black hole. Success on the hiring side of things depends on querying the system with the right keywords, specifications, and requirements to draw out résumés that are the best fit for the position.

However, even if an applicant can do the job, if the résumé doesn’t work well with the ATS, the recruiter or hiring manager won’t find him or her.

One advantage for jobseekers applying through an applicant tracking system is that some systems automatically notify candidates whose résumés don’t meet the position requirements as identified by the ATS software. Receiving a response to a manual résumé submission is rare due to the volume of applications many employers receive — so notification by the ATS that the application has been rejected allows the candidate to pursue other opportunities to be considered for the role (i.e., using networking contacts), to tweak the résumé, or to simply move on.

There are no clear statistics about the number of companies using applicant tracking systems; however, it’s clear that those numbers will continue to grow as the software’s cost comes down. You also might not be aware of which companies are using an ATS when you submit your résumé; however, applicant tracking systems are currently being used primarily in midsize and larger companies. Research indicates that almost all Fortune 500 companies use ATS software.

The Difference between Print and Online Processing
The “print” version of your resume should be visually appealing and used in direct contact situations including networking, job fairs, snail-mail to employers. The traditional resume needs to “look great” to capture attention and get you noticed. Your headers can have creative titles (Experience = Employment Narrative; Education = Academic Training) and you may use enhancements to highlight information (bolding, italics, lines, graphs).

Your “online” resume is the plain-Jane version that has all formatting (graphics, text boxes, stylish fonts) removed. The more well-known fonts should be used (Times New Roman, Arial, Courier) for this version and it should be saves as a plain text document (.txt). The ATS System is designed to look for less creative headers (contact information, summary, experience, education, certifications). If you use the more creative headers, the ATS system will probably not recognize or interpret the entry and will skip over the section as if you do not have the necessary qualifications.

The system will search for company name, job title, dates of employment, degree, university and certifications to compile a summary of the candidate’s information. If the employer is intrigued by what they see on the summary (you indeed have the “key” qualifications they are looking for), they may then print out your actual resume that provides the detail.

This system helps increase the productivity of the reviewer (they no longer have to wade through hundreds of resumes) and makes it crucial to use keyword.

Because the ultimate goal is to have the résumé reviewed by a human, even an ATS-friendly résumé needs to be readable — and attractive — to human eyes. Breakthrough Resume Writing Service helps candidates with the development of keyword rich resumes that help get candidates noticed. For more information, contact me today.

About the Author:

Tammy Shoup, Executive Director and Head Writer of Breakthrough Résumés, is among a small number of professional résumé writers in the U.S. who has earned the title of Certified Professional Résumé Writer from the Professional Association of Résumé Writers / Career Coaches.

Shoup is also a member of the National Résumé Writers’ Association and Career Directors International. Her activity in both organizations ensures that her knowledge of industry and employment trends remains current. It also indicates her dedication to continuing education in her industry. Her work is published in both JIST and Barron’s career books. Please review Shoup’s information at www.breakthroughrésumés.com or www.tammyshoup.com or inquire directly to Tammy Shoup at awordpro@aol.com
Wishing you the best in your job search campaign! †