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How to Get Your Resume Past the Applicant Tracking System

Topics: Career Advice

In today’s competitive job market, it’s likely that an applicant tracking system will “read” your resume before it has the chance to reach a real person’s desk. These software programs save time for HR teams, but create potential complications for you, the job seeker. To get around them, you’ll need to construct your resume with keywords and other best practices in mind.

applicant tracking system

(Photo Credit: Flazingo Photos/Flickr)

Here are three tips for making sure that your application gets past the first hurdle, increasing your chances of an eventual job offer:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Tailor to the Position

It’s not enough to have a catchall resume if you’re applying for a variety of positions, even if they are similar. Chances are, if you’re sticking to a particular template and sending it out to lots of different companies, you’re not being specific enough when describing your achievements and responsibilities. Take the extra time to include details that would be of particular interest for the position in question. The investment will be worth it.

Be Careful With Keywords

Hiring managers use specific keywords to search the applicant tracking system for qualified candidates. Many of these can be found in the job listing. Comb it over and pick out any words that strike you as particularly important. Include them in ways that make contextual sense, emphasizing how your background makes you a candidate worthy of consideration. Don’t be afraid to include sales numbers and dates to provide further context, as this gives the employer a starting point for discussion in your interview.

Know Which Skills Are Valuable for Your Job

Hiring managers aren’t perfect, and they have a limited amount of space in the job listing to specify the skills they’re seeking. Don’t assume that every valuable attribute will appear in the listing as a readily identifiable keyword.

Instead, look at your industry as a whole and your job in particular to determine which skills are most desirable for this job opening. Looking at listings for similar jobs at competing companies can help you isolate these skills. PayScale’s report, Leveling Up: How to Win in the Skills Economy, provides a list of skills that boost pay in many major job groups. It’s in your best interests to include those that apply.

Tell Us What you Think

What are your tips for getting a real person to read through your resume and call for an interview? Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on Twitter.

Kirsty Wareing
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