Career Warrior Podcast #308) Is My Resume ATS Friendly? [Updated for 2023]
Is your resume ATS friendly?
As small businesses embrace Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and their integration with social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, the job application landscape has evolved significantly. With the increasing number of ATS options available, each with its unique set of rules, it’s essential for job seekers to understand how to make their resumes stand out in the digital crowd.
One thing is certain – AI algorithms have become more sophisticated, and candidates are now ranked on a broader range of criteria than ever before. To shed some light on this topic, we’ll take a closer look at Google Hire, a prime example of how recruiters are leveraging technology to identify potential candidates who match their job requirements.
But let’s not overcomplicate things! In this episode, we’ll follow the simple acronym ATS to guide you through the key steps in creating an ATS-friendly resume.
Chris Villanueva 0:00
Pay just as much attention to the application form fields and filling that thing out as thoroughly and as well as you possibly can to make sure you “get past the ATS” because it goes beyond your resume! LinkedIn presents:
And welcome to the Let’s Eat, Grandma Career Warrior Podcast! If your goal is to transition to more meaningful work, achieve better pay, or reach that flow state of work, this is your podcast. My name is Chris Villanueva, the Founder of Let’s Eat,Grandma, the resume service that puts customers first.
Is my resume ATS-friendly? Gosh, this is still among the top concerns for job seekers. According to a recent poll from our service at Let’s Eat, Grandma, this was among the top three concerns because job seekers know that a lot of the times, their resumes are getting put through these applicant tracking systems, which can influence part of the hiring process.
A big part of it, in some cases, is a side pitch or a plug to send in your resume for a free review at letseatgrandma.com. We would love to look over your resume personally and address any specific concerns or questions you have about the ATS.
Now, let us talk about applicant tracking systems. I was delivering a talk in 2018, where we were discussing how to get your resume “past the ATS” or past the black hole or something like that. And the person who was giving the speech alongside me said something along the lines of, “You have to submit your resume with either a Georgia font or a Times New Roman font. Otherwise, your resume will not get past the ATS.” And instantly My heart dropped, I was like, “What the heck kind of advice is this being sent out in the resume world? Georgia or Times New Roman?” How specific are these algorithms in the applicant tracking systems that they have to be submitted through Times New Roman or Georgia. And even looking on LinkedIn, I’m seeing so many different people who are sort of spouting the advice that they hear from other people, which is secondhand advice. Secondhand knowledge isn’t a bad thing necessarily but a lot of the folks don’t know what they’re talking about and they haven’t even seen an applicant tracking system.
So my goal here is to sort of clarify what makes a resume that can be quote ATS friendly and in general a good resume that can get you interviews. And so I hope this episode as well as the last one I released on ATS myths can help you to have a better job search and understand really how this stuff works.
So what is an ATS? ATS stands for applicant tracking system and this is a tool that can help manage the hiring process by organizing candidates. Many times companies have put out job postings and they are just flooded with a bunch of different applicants. And this is tough for many reasons.
First of all, how do you sift through 100 or 200 or even more than that, in many cases, how do you sift through all of these different resumes and applications and make an actual decision, given the short amount of time that you have? Well, what an applicant tracking system can do is it can sort based on specific criteria that the hiring manager or recruiter may set and it can sort the candidates to give better matches and sort of just save time. It’s a really good tool to help save time within the hiring process.
Now, you may know this already and I know a lot of people understand this but more and more small businesses are using applicant tracking systems as we evolve into the present day into 2023 and beyond. Applicant tracking systems are getting even smarter, smarter than they were back in the day. As more and more applicant tracking systems enter the market, there are going to be different rules that these applicant tracking systems play by or different types of criteria that you can use to search for a candidate. So this whole one size fits all approach for applicant tracking systems, like you have to have Georgia Font, you have to have et cetera, et cetera – that type of advice is becoming less and less relevant.
And I know we’re in 2023, again, and as AI algorithms have become more and more advanced, we’re going to see candidates ranked on a wider range of criteria. I’ll give a quick example from Google hire, which is something that’s now defunct and this was in 2018, actually, when this came out, but they actually use their application to put together a list of former candidates. So it would draw upon past candidates that a company hired and it would implement this candidate discovery tool that would actually hire future candidates based on the data set of former candidates. I hope I didn’t butcher the explanation of that, but it used AI and it’s no surprise that, you know, we’re here five years later, you can fully expect that AI will continue to play a role in these algorithms, and it will make applicant tracking systems get smarter.
What does that mean for job seekers? For one, we need to understand that applicant tracking systems, again, there is a bunch of different ways that these ATS can be used to filter or sort out candidates in the job search. There is no one size fits all approach. And even in this present day, we need to understand that humans are the ones that are making the decisions still in this crazy world of AI. And they are the ones who are fully in control of the tool, because it’s just a tool at the end of the day to help save time.
Now, let’s move on to how to make sure that your resume is ATS-friendly and how to make sure that you “get your resume passed” the ATS even though I think that that’s sort of outdated language now, but there is an acronym that I would like you to use in order to remember how to make your resume ATS friendly and it is A T S. Gosh, that is genius, Chris, who came up with an acronym that talks about the thing. You’re going to use the ATS in order to remember how to make your resume ATS-friendly.
So the first letter A stands for Avoid, avoid fancy designs. And so yes, just a second ago, I said that applicant tracking systems are getting smarter. And sometimes these rules are outdated, but the one I tend to stick by just because I think it’s important to play it safe is those fancy designs that you’re using in your resume, which don’t really do you much justice anyway. So why use them if there’s a chance that applicant tracking systems may not be able to scan them that well. So let’s give an example of a resume that I saw the other day, it was built most likely throughout one of these design, the types of cloud-based websites out there not going to say what it was, but it used a double column format. And there was a big fat picture, not only at the top, but it used these crazy bullet points as well, that just had some strange designs to it. So not only was the resume difficult to read and just unprofessional in my opinion, but it can get in the way, in some cases of applicant tracking system scans. So I say stick to a traditional format and Microsoft Word. Yes, you can add flair as necessary, such as color, you can include borders in your resume, I think that that’s fine. But just no columns, no tables and try to not integrate so many of the graphics.
Alright, step three, or the third part of the A T S acronym is “Step back.” You need to step back and see the bigger picture when it comes to applications. So when people say, you know, “is my resume going to get you know, filtered out through the ATS” or “is it going to get thrown out?” Typically speaking, your resume itself is not going to completely disqualify you for a position. Now I have heard from different recruiters that the application form fields in which they ask very specific questions, perhaps these are yes or no questions or multiple choice or things like that can serve as knockout questions to eliminate the chance of you moving on in the interview. So make sure you pay just as much attention to, and I hate to say it because I know how much time these things take, pay just as much attention to the application form fields and filling that thing out as thoroughly and as well as you possibly can to make sure you “get past the ATS” because it goes beyond your resume. Yes, LinkedIn profile reviews are a part of applicant tracking systems as they get more and more advanced. This is actually a feature that’s been around for years and this is nothing that’s cutting edge. But these applicant tracking systems can pull in and find your LinkedIn profile and scan and look for certain keywords to assess relevance. Is this person a relevant person to apply for this role? Should I bring them in for an interview here? So target keywords in other parts of the application is really important. And when I say step back, it’s also really important to note that when you have successfully made sure that your resume is ATS friendly, you need to first and foremost, make sure that that thing is darn impressive, readable, and just exciting for a human being who is going to eventually pop open that resume and make the ultimate decision to bring you into the interview.
So the ATS is kind of just like a starting point here to make sure that your resume fulfills a certain amount of criteria to get the resume sorted out properly. But at the end of the day, you need to make sure that your resume has some distinguishing features in it, and you’re showing exactly why you are a good person for the role. You’re the person who’s meant for that role there specifically.
Was this episode useful for you? Let me know by hopping onto LinkedIn and connecting with me, I post a newsletter once a week, and I’m always reading connection requests. And I’m reading those personalized messages from you all. So if you let me know that you’re a Career Warrior listener, I will most certainly hit “accept” if not, then I will sadly decline it just because I receive way too many random LinkedIn requests these days. And I want to make sure that it’s relevant for the people I care about. So let me know what you thought about this episode and I hope it was useful for you and your journey as you send out your resume.
Right, Career Warriors, thanks so much for tuning in to today’s Career Warrior Podcast! I will see you next time in the Career Warrior Podcast and before you go remember, if you’re not seeing the results you want in your job search our highly trained team of professional resume writers here at Let’s Eat, Grandma can help head on over to letseatgrandma.com/podcast to get a free resume critique and $70 off any one of our resume writing packages. We talk all the time on the show about the importance of being targeted in your job search in with our unique writing process and focus on individual attention. You’ll get a resume cover letter and LinkedIn profile that are highly customized and tailored to your goals to help you get hired faster. Again, head on over to letseatgrandma.com/podcast. Thanks, I’ll see you next time.