What is ATS you ask?  It stands for Automated Tracking System and it has changed the landscape of hiring and job searches forever.  ATS can scan an entire database of candidates and present the employer with the best matched applicants to focus their attention on based solely on keyword search.  So, you can spend hours on a beautifully crafted resume, and it may never get in the hands of the hiring personnel merely because it is, in essence, being reviewed by a bot!

With the invention of online job boards came a large pool of jobs and candidates applying for positions.  Keywords are now essential to getting in front of the right people for the right position. If you do not have the keywords needed you will never make it in front of the employer for review.  While this is extremely efficient for employers due to the time it cuts reviewing resumes. It can be extremely frustrating as an employee looking for a career.

So, how do you get in front of the right people?  The short answer – read the job descriptions and requirements for the jobs you are interested in and embed those keywords throughout your resume and cover letter.  Your resume keywords should include items such as specific job requirements; this would include skills, competencies, qualifications, certifications held – anything that will at a glance show the company you would potentially be a great candidate for an interview.  Review job postings that are like a position you are interested in, and can of course, do the job.  

Another great way of adding keywords for resume recognition would be to visit the company’s website and make use of words they currently use to describe themselves.  Look at the About Us page. For example, if you are looking at a new position in healthcare and they use the words patient centric, work that into your resume or cover letter, this will match the company’s language and allow you to pull from additional keywords.

To break it down more simply here are the………

Tips on Keywords and ATS:

  • Be as specific as possible – the more focused your resume is, the better chance you have at being placed as a match for the position.  Always remember to write out the full year (2016 not 16)
  • Research the company – review your resume and ensure you format your resume in a way that reflects the company’s brand and values.  If they have additional forms of social media such as FaceBook or LinkedIn – be sure to familiarize yourself with their online presence and keywords as well.
  • The more keywords the better – while this sounds great in theory, you do want to ensure you have matched yourself to the position by using relevant keywords but your resume must still reflect you and what you can actually bring to the table…..do not overdo it.
  • Types of keywords – Your keywords should make use of hard skills (tonometry) and soft skills (time management), as well as industry buzzwords.  Using a variety of these will show the qualities needed for the position.
  • Keyword choices – a company’s software scanning might be programmed for only particular keywords and this is important; you will want to make use of synonyms as well.  You may have COA on your resume, but the keyword programmed is Certified Ophthalmic Assistant. By using variations, you will have a better chance of getting past the bot!
  • And lastly – put those keywords in all places!  Remember to get past the scanning you will want to make sure you have placed words strategically throughout your cover letter and resume.  Use a resume summary section or even an area that directly calls out your core skill set right at the top of the resume. This will make your keywords stand out even more.

Now that you have the tools to create a keyword centric resume, you should also remember that although you are dealing with a bot to get to the human, once there – you want to make sure your resume is readable, flows well and is easy to follow.  Once you get the call, then you have the interview to prepare for!