When you submit a job application online, the first screening step doesn’t typically involve a person. Instead, an automated resume screener – usually part of an applicant tracking system (ATS) software solution – is the first one to determine if you’re a potential match. Essentially, the ATS decides whether your application is worth further review, and if not, there’s a good chance your resume is never viewed by a person.
For many candidates, the presence of automated resume screeners is frustrating. In some cases, the software screens out job seekers who can reasonably do the job, leading to rejections that aren’t entirely deserved. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get past a resume screener and earn an interview. Here’s what you need to know.
How Resume Screener Software Works
Resume screeners are automated tools designed to streamline hiring processes for companies. In most cases, they’re designed to look for specific keywords and phrases that align with a position’s job description. Based on the number of matching keywords it identifies, it assigns the application a score. Those with scores above a specific threshold are forwarded to the hiring manager, while the rest aren’t.
Some ATS solutions also use other factors to screen applicants. For example, applications that have candidates answer questions – usually by clicking checkboxes or using toggle buttons for answers – about whether they have specific skills or their competency level are potentially part of the equation. If a job seeker doesn’t answer these questions based on the standard identified when programming the screener, they’re removed from contention.
How to Get Past a Resume Screener
Generally, getting past a resume screener isn’t as challenging as candidates expect. Begin by making sure your resume has the right keywords to describe your skills. Use the exact words and phrases – including using the same spellings and punctuation – that you see in the job description and must-have capabilities areas. Typically, those keywords are what the ATS is told to find, so using them precisely as they’re presented helps you showcase yourself as a match.
When you’re integrating the keywords, do so in several parts of your resume. Some resume screeners penalize applications if the keywords are only found in a bulleted skills section. By working them into your work history, too, you may fare better.
You also need to ensure your resume is in an ATS-friendly format. Focus on simplicity and readability. Don’t include images, charts, or columns, as some resume screeners can’t review them accurately. Submit your document as a Word file (.doc or .docx) unless another file type is requested. Don’t put any information in the document’s header or footer, as many ATS solutions don’t read those areas. Also, stick with traditional fonts and simple bullets, and keep the text black while using options like bold or italic text sparingly.
Finally, make sure you don’t submit too many applications to the same company together. Applying for too many roles can make it seem like you’re spamming the system or aren’t sure about your capabilities or interests, so only submit a resume for jobs that are genuine matches.
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Ultimately, you can get past a resume screener and land an interview by using the tips above. If you’d like to learn more, contact us to see how A.R. Mazzotta can help. Also, if you’re searching for new job opportunities, visit our website to explore our open jobs in Connecticut today