Effective resumes in the age of the applicant tracking system

Riddle. The German code of World War II initially stumped the Allies – until Alan Turing advanced the work of Polish mathematician Marion Rejewski.

Cerberus. The three-headed dog of Greek mythology guarded the gates of the underworld to prevent the dead from leaving – until Hercules captured him.

ATS. An applicant tracking system drives job seekers completely nuts – until… well, until what, exactly?

Terrible applicant tracking system

One of the obstacles of the modern job seeker — if not the #1 cause of lost sleep, stomach upsets, and a variety of nervous breakdowns ranging from the mildly irritating to the profoundly debilitating — is the enigma or Cerberus of today's world: ATS.

As an independent career and management coach for 27 years, I'm writing this article on behalf of every job seeker who has been or will be anywhere from irritated to traumatized by that damned ATS.

Before the late 1990s, for all practical purposes, there was no such beast. Jobs were listed in the classified section of the newspaper, answered on paper, and sent in a stamped envelope. Do you remember them? It was a proof Shaking For both employer and job seeker. The candidate, as he is now, is one of a zillion resumes that land on the company's desk while the employer is covered in more envelopes than can be recycled. trust me; Been there, done that.

Enter ATS. Instantly it is: the doting boss, now setting the rules, using mysterious software with many variations, and running the show with a chaotic cadence. Let's skip the discussion about the system's flaws and shortcomings and how many exceptional candidates it filtered out. For now, it's not a fair fight. Enigma and Cerberus have yet to meet Turing or Heracles.

Even the playing field

Thanks to AI, that's changing as we speak. It's no surprise that HR departments that are ahead of the game are already putting AI into it, but AI isn't just the employer's domain. You have it, don't you? It's a great balance if used strategically.

For example, a simple query – „What are ATS looking for?” or „How can my resume stand out in the ATS?” – yields some interesting results. If you're wondering where this is going, remember that AI won't write a good resume for you. It takes thinking that is both deductive and inductive; reflection; And constant review – none of these affordable AI versions do well.

But you'll find some constructive suggestions, not actual text, but rules of thumb to help you understand what ATS is doing. This levels the playing field.

For one main reason, you need a more thoughtful, experienced professional to do this. Once you've loaded your ATS-targeted resume with all the keywords and accomplishments that fit their needs, and you've gone through the digital screening process, your resume will get in front of a human — and that's where great writing, format, structure, and style come in.

It will never change.

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