Facing Resume Rejection? Here’s How You Can Up Your Chances
Resume rejection is a big problem for today’s jobseekers. The age-old tradition of submitting your resume, getting selected for a round of interviews, and landing that job has been around for the better part of the 21st Century. Traditionally speaking, resumes were a compact form that displayed all of your competencies, accomplishments, and experience. It tells the employer who you are as a professional and why you might be a good candidate to fill the opening in the company.
However, over time, tradition has been put on the back burner for the most part. In its place, we have the technology. Now it is this very technology that determines if your resume is even worth the employer’s time! This technology will determine whether or not your resume will even hit the hiring manager’s desk. What is this scrutinizing technology you ask? It’s called the Applicant Tracking System or ATS for short.
In this article, we will talk about what it is, how it picks apart resumes, and how you might be able to circumvent these obstacles to better your chances at your dream job.
Keywords and SEO: The New Normal
If you have ever worked in the industries of tech, marketing, social media, or just content development in general, then you have likely come across the concept of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Now, the very essence of SEO is to make your content more search-friendly, allowing users online to easily find it and well, read it.
When you consider the vast ocean of information that is the internet, then you see how this becomes a highly necessary tool for discovery. All this comes back to some very simple keywords that are embedded in your body of content. If they are well incorporated, and relevant, your chances of being seen are higher.
The same principle applies to resumes. When we say that, we mean quite literally. Using the right keywords helps make your resume a more discoverable piece of content in the face of modern ATS technology. This is the core of why so many face resume rejection.
The Connection Between ATS and Resumes
Okay, before we get into the technical aspect of it, let’s first get this cleared up. Even today, even with all the technology, there are still companies that do the recruitment process the traditional way. They accept resumes via the HR department, review them, shortlist and finalize. However, a lot of companies are also using the ATS technology to speed up the process, which brings us to the issue at hand – resume rejection.
Essentially, what ATS does is filter the application that is submitted to the company.
Now, this automated shortlisting can be done according to several different parameters. While they might include actual work qualifications, educational background, and so on, it mostly boils down to which keywords you use. If you don’t have the right keywords, you too will face resume rejection.
This automated technology was initially brought in for the sake of filtering out the large number of applications that employers received. For the most part, it was initially, mainly adopted by large corporations.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.“ – Confucius, Chinese Philosopher
How Does ATS Work?
You might have sent in 100 applications to 100 different companies, but only get a response from a handful. Despite having all the qualifications, experience, and ‘know-how’. According to a blog by ‘careerblog.com’ roughly 70% of all candidates who apply face resume rejection. They are screened and filtered out in the initial screening process by the ATS. This includes candidates who are highly qualified for the job!
It rather only selects your resume if you have certain keywords that the system is looking for. These systems were brought in, not only to help speed up the process but to make it an unbiased one. The theory behind it was, if it focused on the keywords, then it would ignore the demographic information such as the financial background, their educational history, who they are on a personal level, and so on.
It would only look at the job-relevant aspects of the resume, at least in theory anyway. However, you could say, things didn’t exactly pan out that way, given the extraordinarily high levels of resume rejection.
How to Get Around the ATS Issue: Preventing Resume Rejection
No matter how flawed the hiring process might be, it is the one that is prevalent these days, and there is just no way around that. However, there are certain steps that you can take to avoid getting your resume sent straight to the trash by a bot.
Have a Solid Format
This may sound like a tedious point, but it’s a necessary one. These days, if your resume is not in a specific format it’s grounds for immediate rejection. The best way to stay safe is to play it safe. What we mean by that is, go for a simple black and white format, no pictures, no charts, nothing fancy. Just information on a paper. Also consider listing information from most to least relevant, as opposed to the traditional chronological order we use. Lastly, check the submission format needed by the employer, sometimes they mention it. It’s usually a PDF or a Word Document.
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.“ – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple
We have already gone over the importance of keywords in resumes. If you’re looking for a direction to begin, look at the job description. This should give you an idea of the type of words they use. Generally, it will be job-related skills and action verbs that you need to mention.
Establish the Human Element
At the end of the day, all these measures are just to help you get past the ATS bot. If you overdo it with the keywords or the formatting it becomes quite evident that the resume was designed for a robot. Considering that a human being will be at the end of the process and reading your resume in person, you need to make it relatable. Employers care about who they are hiring as much as the skill-sets. Therefore, you need to find the right balance between writing for a machine and a human.
So, there you have it, these are some of the ways you can circumvent the ATS software and get your resume to the human on the other side of this robotic filter. For more tips on how to bolster the quality of your resume, check out our blog on ‘Resume Writing Tips and Mistakes You Want to Avoid‘.