How to make sure your online job application is read

How to make sure your online job application is read

The most important thing to know about résumés you upload in response to job postings is that they must pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) before they are ever read by humans. ATS search for specific keywords and keyword phrases – skills, requirements, attributes and more that are essential for each position.

Knowing how to get past the ATS gatekeeper is essential. There are two points of critical consideration – content and format – and here are tips on both:

Content is king. Your résumé must have the right keywords for the jobs you are targeting. If the words are not there, it will not pass ATS. No exceptions. Keywords can include hard skills (logistics, purchasing), soft skills (flexibility, communication), location (Detroit), education (Colgate University), technology skills (HTML, networks) – the list is endless.

Finding keywords. The best resources for finding keywords are job postings. They are the words included in sections such as “Requirements include ...” or “Candidate must have skills in ....” Integrate these words into your summary, employment and education sections.

  • Critical format considerations Most ATS can now read Word résumés if you follow these rules:

  • Put your name on a line by itself. If you want to include certifications or degrees after your name (PMP, MBA), put them on a second line.

  • Use standard fonts, such as Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Tahoma and Times New Roman.

  • Use standard headings, such as “Career Summary” or “Professional Profile,” “Professional Experience” or “Employment Experience,” “Education.” Nothing out of the ordinary, or you run the risk that all information below that heading will be passed over.

  • Do not use graphs, tables, charts or any other images. ATS cannot read them. Use only standard symbols found on your keyboard.

  • Résumé writing has changed remarkably in the past few years and is now driven by technology. Still, the goal hasn’t changed; you want a résumé that showcases your qualifications, achievements and the value you deliver.

Wendy Enelow is co-author of “Expert Résumés for Military-to-Civilian Transitions” and “Expert Résumés for Career Changers.”