ATS refers to Applicant Tracking Systems. These systems help recruiters and employers automatically scan resumes. In years past, experts advised candidate to include keywords on a resume so the ATS could pick up keywords. The early systems were based on semantic search functionality that facilitated the identification and counting of keywords. Due to advancements in ATS, that advice is somewhat outdated.
Today state-of-the-art contextualized resume scanning applications are used to examining keywords in the context of the entire document. Modern ATS applications identify dates associated with certain positions, accomplishments, and functions. Contextualization tools also parse words associated with the primary keyword, such as job titles and all the functions generally related to a job title. In other words, these applications are smart enough to decipher the validity and relevance of each keyword.
Keywords remain important to the resume and must be included. Most applications use both primitive semantic search tools and contextualized parsing tools. If your resume is well-written, the appropriate key words should be naturally apparent in your resume. A good test if you are hitting the key words is to compare your resume to the job posting under consideration.
Excessively-formatted resumes, including those embedded with pictures, graphics, and logos can be incompatible with ATS software. In some cases, your document can be booted from the system and removed from consideration because graphics can “choke the system.”
Another mistake to avoid is placing your name and contact information in a footer. This can cause the system to boot you or render that information invisible to the system, resulting in a missed opportunity for you. It is best to place your name and contact information in the body of the resume, preferably at the top of page one.
The bottom line is to keep it simple. If you write your resume to include your major skills, functional experience, and accomplishments, you should hit the keywords and meet the contextual criteria. If you have questions about your resume, contact us for a complimentary critique.
For more tips on formatting other areas of your résumé, review these blog entries: Résumé Help: Sales and Marketing Job and Stronger Bullet Points on Résumés and Cover Letters.