So you see the perfect job!  You match the qualifications, have the background, industry experience and accomplishments.  You immediately fill out the online application and send off your resume and cover letter to the company outlining why you are their next rising star!

And then?




Not even a courtesy email saying your resume was received.


A good guess is that a living, breathing human being never actually saw your resume.

Not getting a response back from an employer is the number one frustration amongst job seekers according to the hundreds of job seekers I’ve surveyed.  According to a recent survey by Information Strategies Inc., publisher of Your HR Digest, an online newsletter, only 19% of hiring managers at small companies actually look at a majority of the résumés they receive, and 47% say they review just a few.

The rise in the use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is the main reason why.

The Wall Street Journal writes this morning about the widespread use of computerized Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen resumes in their search for qualified job seekers.   You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Here’s basically how an ATS works: a corporate HR recruiter will program qualifying questions into corresponding fields that a job seeker is required to fill out on an online application.  A job seeker will then fill out the online application and the ATS will actively search for key words and phrases and then rank each applicant based on their responses.  In addition to the responses from the job seeker, the computer will also search for terms and words that are in the resumes and cover letters of the job seekers.

If you think that its not a fair process, you are not alone.  Even HR professional agree that they might be overlooking the best candidates.  But think about a large company: they are receiving literally millions of resumes per-year to fill perhaps only 50,000 openings.  Even with a large staff of HR recruiters, there’s simply not enough time to go through each resume.  On a smaller scale, a small business might have to wade through hundreds of resumes for one position.

For this reason, job seekers have to take control of the process by understanding how an ATS works and using that knowledge to better position their resume to get a higher ranking.

Customize each of your resumes sent to an employer in order to conform to the widespread use of Applicant Tracking Systems.  Search for keywords and phrases in the job posting and match your relevant skills, experiences and past jobs to the job you are applying.  Don’t be shy!  Use the EXACT phrases and words they are using in the job posting.  You are not trying to ‘trick’ the ATS, you are conforming the language that best describes you and fits the words and phrases they are specifically looking for.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page