Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join us as we talk about…

In this week’s episode…

  • You’ll learn about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
  • Next, you’ll learn 11 key things to incorporate in your resume to make it through ATS
  • Finally, you’ll learn the importance of crafting a specific resume for each job application.

In today’s job market, your resume often has to pass through an initial screening process conducted by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) powered by artificial intelligence (AI). These systems are designed to streamline the hiring process by automatically filtering out candidates who don’t meet certain criteria.

Filtering is the keyword here. AI is not selecting the best resumes; it’s filtering as many resumes as possible with the goal of streamlining. Employers know AI will miss some good or even great job candidates due to this bias, but they don’t care because they are getting hundreds to thousands of applicants per open position.

To increase your chances of getting past the AI gatekeepers, it’s crucial to write a simple, focused resume that resonates with both the machines and human employers. There are 12 important factors to consider here.

First, start with a resume format that is ATS-friendly. Stick to traditional formats such as chronological, functional or combination resumes. Avoid using fancy designs, complex tables, or graphics that may confuse the ATS and cause it to reject your resume.

Second, opt for standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Ensure consistent font sizes and formatting throughout your resume. Headings should be clearly defined, and bullet points should be used for easy readability. Make sure all bullets share the same indentation metrics.

Third, target your resume using verbatim keywords. Carefully read the job description and identify longtail keywords (ideally keywords that are in fact 2-3 words long) that describe the specific skills, qualifications, and experiences required for the position. Include these keywords naturally throughout your resume, especially in your skills and experience sections.

Number four is related to this – tailor your resume for each job application. While it may be tempting to use a one-size-fits-all approach, customizing your resume to match the specific job requirements will significantly improve your chances of getting past the ATS.

Fifth, create a dedicated skills section near the end of your resume. List both hard and soft skills relevant to the job. This section not only makes it easier for the ATS to identify your qualifications but also gives recruiters a quick overview of your capabilities.

Sixth, add lots of numerical values related to your results. When detailing your work experience, focus on quantifiable achievements. Use numbers, percentages, and specific results to highlight your accomplishments. ATS systems are more likely to recognize and favor concrete achievements.

Seventh, include your educational background and any relevant certifications. Be sure to mention the name of the institution, degree or certification earned, and graduation date.

Eighth, refrain from using special characters, symbols, or graphics in your resume. ATS systems may misinterpret them or be unable to process them correctly, potentially leading to rejection.

Ninth, submit the right file type. Most ATS systems prefer Word formats over PDFs which are harder to scan, though some ATS systems accept or even prefer PDFs. Check the job application guidelines to determine the preferred format. If it’s not specified, consider sending both formats to ensure compatibility.

Tenth, proof read very carefully and don’t include slashes, dashes or things like 10+ years of experience. Spelling and grammar errors, and misuse of characters can harm your chances of getting past both AI and human screeners. Thoroughly proofread your resume and consider seeking feedback from a friend or professional.

Eleventh and lastly, start your resume with a concise professional summary. AI prioritizes the top ⅓ of your resume, giving it up to 80% of the entire resume’s keyword strength. A professional summary at the top of your resume can provide a snapshot of your career and highlight your most valuable skills and experiences. Make sure to include relevant keywords here and limit it to 3 bullet points.

In a job market increasingly reliant on AI-driven ATS systems, crafting a resume that can successfully navigate this screening process is essential. By following these guidelines, you can optimize your resume to meet both the requirements of the machines and the expectations of human employers too.

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