The road to a new job can be difficult to navigate. Worse for job seekers, an applicant tracking system (ATS) makes navigation even tougher. But, smooth riding is on the horizon. In his session, “Get That Interview! How to Beat the Dreaded Applicant Tracking System,” speaker Jack Molisani, president of ProSpring Staffing, demonstrated how applicants could stand out, even to the computers.

What is an ATS?

Before the creation of the ATS, job recruiters and hiring managers were expected to sift through each application for any given position. However, with the growth of mobile job hunting, and websites like Indeed and Monster, applicants could not only apply with a swipe of a finger, but without the necessary qualifications. As a result, companies received hundreds, if not thousands, of impractical resumes.

Enter the ATS. Now recruiters and hiring managers could utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to find and remove resumes from non-qualified candidates. ATS takes keywords from the job description and compares it to each resume in search of the best fit.

The Trouble with an ATS

Unfortunately, an ATS is not perfect. The reliance on keywords to find candidates can create a need for well-written resumes, not relevant experience, and lead to the elimination of otherwise qualified applicants.

Molisani told a story about a UI/UX designer who applied for a new job. After running an ATS match report search, the designer discovered a low ranking on an ATS, despite her high qualifications. It turned out she swapped UI and UX, and this one change dropped her further in the applicant pool.

Beat an ATS

Molisani said the best method, if possible, was to avoid jobs using an ATS. If that’s not feasible, he offered ways around it.

Molinari suggested an applicant tailor a resume to look like the job posting. Candidates should write the title of the position at the top. Edit current and previous jobs to match keywords from the job posting exactly.

Further, job applicants should network, including personal STC connections. If a network doesn’t exist or is rather small, build one, especially before any need for a new job arises. Molinari recommended networking opportunities such as volunteering at local STC chapters, speaking at the STC Summit, or writing for Intercom and for a local chapter’s newsletter, etc.

Some more quick tips include:

  • Use short phrases
  • Keep verbs and objects close together
  • Avoid tables, text boxes, icons and graphics, headers and footers.
   

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