In today’s job market, 90% of Fortune 500 companies use electronic systems, known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review and screen résumés.
ATS software comes under many brand names (like Taleo and Brass Ring) and is used by companies to electronically track job candidates, review résumés and begin their selection process. Generally, when you are applying online and submitting your résumé electronically it is going through an applicant tracking system. And the software will do the initial screening, not a person. That is why a clean and neat résumé is so important.
In addition, be clear about your skills. The system will be using a keyword type of search to review your résumé for specific qualifications. For instance, if an employer is looking for Microsoft Excel and you only use the words Microsoft Office, then your résumé would not be included if they do a keyword search on Excel.
Consistency is important. Use the same format throughout the entire document
|June ’22 ||Only use the full four-digit year. June 2022|
|Sept. 2023||Abbreviations for all months are the only the first three letters of the month and a period. Sep. 2023|
|Spring 2021||ATS does not recognize a season as a month.|
|January 2018 – June 2020||Never have space between the dates and the hyphen.|
|Feb. - Oct. 2019||List a year with every month and do not add spaces around the hyphen. Feb. 2019-Oct. 2019|
|5/19-8/20||Numerical date ranges must be given in XX/XXXX-XX/XXXX format. 05/2019-08/2020|
The ATS will automatically generate a summary (like an objective) for you if you do not have one based on the content of your résumé for the recruiter and hiring managers to read. If you are a career -changer, we recommend creating a summary on your résumé so you can be in control of the summary content.
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ATS are programmed to look for specific content in sections of your résumé based on the headings you decide to use. The ATS will weigh, or score content in one section differently than another. The experience section is often weighed more. Therefore, using the word “EXPERIENCE” in headings where the content is most relevant to your future jobs is crucial. This includes academic projects, research, leadership, etc. and is even more crucial for career changers who are using their academic projects and internships to show employers they are transforming their career into a new path.
The order of your sections is slightly important. More technical roles should list computer skills closer to the top. Project experience can be listed above employment experience if it is more relevant. Certifications should always be in its own section because the applicant tracking system will be looking for the content within the “Certification” heading, not the “Skills” section. Activities, professional development, study abroad, etc. is considered “gravy”. The words in the content are searchable and important, but are weighted less.
It is possible, but not ideal to list company, title, location and date all on one line. If you have multiple positions within the same company, you must repeat the company name when listing the older title.
To ensure an applicant tracking system reads content on the right side of your résumé and does not assume you created a column, use the "right tab stop”. This also ensures your locations and dates are aligned perfectly.
You adjust the position of tab stops in Microsoft Word using the ruler section at the top of the page. The ruler section is the series of vertical lines and numbers running across the top. The tab stop icon at the top left of the window displays the symbol for a left tab (L) by default. If you cannot see the ruler, go to the "View" tab at the top of the screen and click the check box beside "Ruler" in the "Show/Hide" group.
When you click the tab stop icon at the top left of a document, it cycles through the available tab stop options. They are the left tab, center tab for text centered around the tab stop, right tab for text that's right aligned and extends to the left, decimal tab that aligns the position of a decimal point, and the bar tab, which inserts a vertical bar at the position of the tab marker.
Click the tab stop icon at the top left of the window just below the ribbon and select the right tab (backward L). Then, click the ruler where you want the right-align tab to be placed (ideally on the right margin). Then use tab to move the content you want right aligned over to the right margin.
Once you have completed your online application or submitted your résumé electronically, you should receive a quick and automatic response indicating your application was received.
Check your junk mail as automatic emails from the Applicant Tracking System might go there.
These tools will help you become aware of the important features of an American-style résumé. Based on years of feedback from corporate recruiters, we will show you what to include as well as what not to include. We will also demonstrate how to make the most of your experience.