Beat the Robots

Beat the Robots

By: Nicole Strutt
  17822 reads

So you are all geared up to finding your summer job or internship. You have submitted your resume to multiple businesses online and you feel like the aesthetics, format and content shown in your resume is enough to get you an interview and the job. You have added headers, created tables to showcase your skills and have added graphics to add life to your resume. The only problem is that your ‘fantastic’ resume has not gotten you your dream job or any interviews.

One of the most important things that students forget to emphasize when looking for a job is to target their resume directly to the company or the job they are applying for.

Often times (like this scenario) the large or even medium sized businesses you have applied for online use ATS systems (Applicant Tracking Systems) to read your resume. What this means is that the regular formatting you usually use for applying for jobs does not work here.

What are ATS systems?

ATS systems are used by large, medium or small sized companies in order to speed up the recruitment process by giving computer applications the job of pre-screening applicants rather than the hiring manager.

What Factors can Prevent Applicants from Being Interviewed?

(The following factors are tips from the information graph provided by

1. Fancy Layouts

Fancy layouts play a huge role when applying for companies who use ATS systems. This includes the use of tables, graphics, logos, headers or footers and fancy fonts. Fancy formats in general do not format well with the ATS systems that are used, and make it very difficult for ATS systems to read. Instead use plain text, without fancy formatting.

2. Submission Format

It is important to be aware of the format you are using when submitting your resume online; some ATS systems may not be able to process PDF formats or may not recognize when you copy and paste your information. When possible it is important to check with the company you are applying for with what format you should use when submitting your resume.

3. Punctuation and Capitalization

Having shorthand abbreviations, acronyms, or spelling mistakes will confuse ATS systems so that they will not understand the content of your resume. This will significantly decrease your chances of getting your resume sorted into the ‘yes’ pile.

What Factors Can Ensure You Get an Interview?

(The following factors are tips from the information graph provided by

1.  Keywords

Use keywords! ATS systems scan resumes by looking at the keywords and adjectives that describe your characteristics. ATS systems work by looking for keywords provided in the job description, use these words to your advantage to get that interview.

2. Font

Use web standard font like Arial, Tahoma or Verdana to ensure that ATS systems can read your resume without being confused by fancy fonts.

3. Organization

Use clear formatting that ATS applications can understand. For example, for your past work experience, start with the employer’s name, accompanied by your title and then the dates you held at the position.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, the tips mentioned above are for applicants who are applying for online jobs and help to ensure that a wonderful application does not get missed based on formatting errors. Remember that when applying for any job, it is important to target your resume to the company and job you are applying for. This means if you are applying for a large company to be aware about the formatting of your resume and to keep in mind that they may be using ATS software. Last, remember that an actual human being will be reading your resume so they will have the final say when hiring their ideal candidate.  

Beyond the Article

*Lead image: creative-commons licensed photo by reader of the packImage cropped by author.

Posted on February 27, 2014