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Posting Your Resume Online With No Success? Think ATS Software

By Lisa Wolf, Transition Corner Founder & CEO

Here’s a familiar scenario: you’re on LinkedIn and suddenly a listing for a fantastic job opportunity grazes your feed. Naturally, you go to the company’s profile to investigate and read the listing. Maybe you even pinch yourself because you’re absolutely wow’ed by this opportunity.

Once you’re on the company’s page you take an inventory of everything in the post: The type of skills the company is looking for, level of experience, responsibilities of the new role, relevance to your skillset, etc, and in the moment, you make a decision to apply. You digitally upload the resume you’ve slaved over with curated text boxes of your most marketable skills, the perfect font, and all of the trimmings, and hit “Apply”. How exciting, you have officially kicked off the job search first step.

After this initial step, you begin the process of waiting to hear back. And while you know that it can take a few days (or even weeks) for a hiring manager to reach out, you get a lump in your throat with every LinkedIn notification, email, and direct message you receive over the next couple of days. This is when you also start to realize just how badly you want this opportunity.

Blue background with text "7%5 of resumes are never seen by hiring personnel"

If after a while, you don’t hear anything back, inevitably you may start asking yourself some tough (and potentially unproductive) questions: Am I not qualified for the role? Was my resume not eye-catching enough? Did I not have enough experience? Did I not have the right experience? There are a myriad of things that run through every job search candidate’s mind when they feel an amazing career opportunity start to slip away.

 

So, What Went Wrong?

What could have gone wrong for our top-notch candidate in this made up LinkedIn scenario? Where do I begin? In all of my years of experience as a talent expert, so many exceptionally talented professionals who have managed their careers with the focus and determination of a marathon runner are tripping at the starting line. But why?

Oddly enough, past success is often the catalyst of some of the more questionable decision-making I see from hopefuls in the job search process. In posting resumes and job searching in general, most folks think they have it in the bag because they have been successful to date. They ignore, or they’re just unaware of the strategic things one must do in order to be noticed online, after all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

In the case of our LinkedIn hopeful, misunderstanding the strategy portion of their online search caused them to ask all of the wrong questions. Instead of focusing on the eye-catching, single page resume that appealed to hiring managers of the past, they should have been focusing on a digital strategy, asking questions like, ‘Is my resume ATS-friendly?’, ‘Can AI bots easily read my skills?’, ‘Does my resume use keywords?’, ‘Are they the right keywords?’

The digitization of the recruiting process has changed the game for so many job search candidates. If you’re a displaced member of our workforce either because your position was cut due to COVID or a reorg, every application you submit online could be the job search equivalent of treading water if you aren’t optimizing for ATS: you’re keeping your nose above the surface, but you aren’t yet swimming. 

To get that forward momentum that is so critical to doing your first successful lap in the job market pool, you need to take a moment to reflect. Reflect on short and long-term goals, map your ideal opportunity checklist and build your career wish list to understand exactly what it is you want out of your career and how to proceed. Once you achieve this level of clarity, you’ll be able to fly through the more technical aspects of resume building like ATS compliance, marketability, and more.

 

What is ATS Software in Job Recruiting?

The job market has changed, no question. Between the disruptive year that was 2020, individuals with multiple income streams, the gig economy, and more people working from home than ever before, job seekers are navigating some unfamiliar waters when it comes to career opportunities. 

Even those on a more traditional path, seeking employment with established companies and corporations have to heave themselves over hiring obstacles that are utterly foreign to previous generations of job seekers. One of those hurdles is applicant tracking systems or ATS.

ATS is a software application used by hiring managers, human resources, and talent acquisition experts to digitally scan resumes and recruiting materials. The automation of this process has made it possible for companies to receive hundreds and thousands of applications a day, but it also means that employers are physically seeing a much smaller percentage of resumes than they would be if they were reviewing every application by hand. In fact, a whopping 75% of resumes are never seen by hiring personnel thanks to ATS software and ATS compliance.

 

What Does an ATS Do and Is It Really Relevant to My Job Search Efforts?

If you’re curious whether or not you should be worried about ATS compliance when applying for a job, the unequivocal answer is yes. Of course, having an ATS-friendly resume isn’t the only thing to consider when applying for a job, but it certainly helps place your application in the proverbially ‘yes’ pile and in front of the right eyes.

It’s estimated that nearly 98% of Fortune 500 companies use some form of ATS software for part of their recruiting process—arguably the make-or-break part. In terms of how it works or what exactly an ATS does, the answer varies slightly. Today’s popular ATS software use AI bots to scan resumes for predetermined ‘match’ factors such as job titles, hard and soft skills, education, and other job description-specific criteria. Whether or not teams also impart some manual processes depends largely on the size of the hiring team and the volume of applications they receive.  

That being said, you can guarantee that part of the hiring process in today’s job market includes sending your resume through an applicant tracking system and you need to factor that in when you start building or rebuilding your resume. Cute and fancy words as well as creative designs will not make your resume standout. In fact, your resume may end up in the ‘no’ pile without so much as a second glance if the automated parsing, searching, and matching bots don’t recognize enough of the keywords.

 

How Do I Check if My Resume is ATS-Friendly?

If your job search efforts have led you to Transition Corner, you are luckily already on the right track. As job search experts with decades of experience placing candidates in positions from entry level to the C-Suite, we implore all of our prospects to own the job search process and take control of their careers. Take the first step by auditing your resume for ATS-compliance. But where to begin?

Blue background with white and black text that reads "Did You Know? Advanced ATS SOftware and AI Bots cannot read resumes formatted with Multi-colums, text fields, and tables"

We always recommend checking if your resume is ATS-friendly by first comparing it with the job description in the listing. Compare use of language, check for keyword matches and use of conventional names and job titles, and make sure your resume’s file format is compatible. 

If you notice your resume is missing any of these criteria, this is a good indication that it is not structured for an employer’s ATS and will likely be missed by their parsing system. Once you’ve placed your resume in the correct formatting, the real work can begin and Transition Corner can help.

 

How Can I Audit My Resume for ATS With Transition Corner?

Unfortunately for our job seeker on LinkedIn, not having an ATS-friendly resume could have cost them a career opportunity they were perfect for. If this candidate had known about proper formatting, effective use of keywords, and proper names for job titles, they may have been considered or at least seen by parsing software. But there’s even more to consider on the front of ATS-compliance.

Your resume is your story. It is meant to be an extension of who you are and it is one of the most powerful tools in your career toolkit. Give your story its best chance to stand out from the pack and stand up against automated screenings and human eyes alike with an ATS audit from Transition Corner.

Overview table of Transition Corner's Resume ATS Keyword Audit Report with pie chart and resume optimization recommendations shown in bullet points.
Overview Table of a Resume ATS Keyword Audit Report
Comparison table from an ATS keyword audit from Transition Corner comparing "Found" and "Not Found" traits in a user's resume.
Resume ATS Keyword Audit Report Comparison Table

Our Resume ATS Keyword Audit service is included in each of our comprehensive packages and it couldn’t be easier to use—or more impactful on your job search. Simply upload your resume, copy and paste the job description in a window and hit send. Our resume auditing tool will mimic the AI bots in ATS software and give you definitive guidance on the keywords most likely to be searched in your particular job listing and where they fit best in your resume.

Highlight your skills, showcase your specific industry knowledge, certifications, and more to optimize your match. Our resume keyword ATS audit uses a subscription format that makes it possible to tailor your resume easily to every opportunity so you can own your career search no matter how it changes throughout the process. Remember, the career journey is never linear, you need a toolkit that is versatile and equipped for the road ahead and a resume ATS keyword audit from Transition Corner is a surefire way to set you on the right path.

A note from Lisa A. Wolf

Identifying and nurturing top talent for companies at the forefront of their industry has allowed me to engage in fulfilling work that has enabled me to lead with both heart and mind. As an ardent advocate for my candidates’ and clients’ collective success, I am also fiercely proud to uphold Transition Corner’s mission to change lives and trajectory, respectively, for the positive.

Transition Corner was born from the foundational construct of my mission:

To be the catalyst for professionals to rise and take control of their careers and provide them with robust tools and resources to master their job search and career journey. Transition Corner clients deserve nothing less.

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