Applicant tracking software know-how vs "resume black hole"

Me at Facebook event.jpg

Yesterday I presented to a group of about 30, the Communitech Job Seekers P2P Group. Held in Kitchener in the fabulous, revitalized Lang Tannery property at Victoria and Joseph Streets, the Communitech hub injected extra energy into my topic, I’m sure!

My presentation educated job seekers from diverse career backgrounds and stages on how to appease the requirements of applicant tracking software (ATS), now widely used by companies to streamline their recruitment process. Although a disruptive tool that has significantly influenced how a resume must be formatted, too few job applicants are aware of how to navigate this parsing software’s requirements.

Too few know about it because no company actually outlines what the resume’s creator must know about how this software is programmed to “read” or evaluate and score resumes. Even Human Resource departments are blissfully unaware of what the job applicants are up against.

HR knows what ATS can do for them, after all, that’s precisely what the ATS marketers will tell HR - how the ATS will make their work easier, how it will save them money, how it will slash the time to review resumes by hours or even days.

But that says nothing to the issue of “here’s what your job applicants need to know.”

I shared a long list of dos and don’ts related to document formatting and content, and the actual online submission process. The info I shared came from a career professional who interviewed not marketing, but the software engineers who program ATS! Was that not inspired?

Here’s one little tip that can knock your resume right out of the running. Do not place your name and contact information into a header as the info in that header is not scored nor reliably “read” by today’s ATS.

I say “reliably” for a good reason. With several major brands of ATS and many custom versions on the market, no one can say with 100% certainty what the capabilities are of the ATS in use by the company to which you are applying. My presentation shared a “best practice” approach, addressing common denominators.

Yes, that’s as good as today’s job seeker can expect.

But know this: the best practice approach beats out ignoring ATS requirements, which ensures that the resume falls into a deep, dark hole of despair!

Here’s what one attendee had to say about the presentation:

Hi Stephanie, it was a pleasure to meeting you during the workshop "Avoid the Resume Black Hole". A lot of take aways, excellent tips, awesome in general.


I love to speak on career management topics! If your group is interested, let’s chat about the possibilities!