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Winning Over Algorithms and Getting Your CV Shortlisted

Technology has enabled hiring process to evolve faster than we can imagine. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) has changed the entire method of how companies conduct their candidate screening and reviewing. If you cannot adapt and keep up the new rule, chances are, this smart algorithms system will change your career too.

Job seekers nowadays have to go through a cold and soulless gatekeeper, if they want their resumes to be shortlisted. And unfortunately, this gatekeeper is not something you can negotiate with, since it is a machine.

For multinational companies like Amazon and Microsoft, thousands of resumes are sent to the company’s inbox for every job opening. HR leaders simply do not have much spare time to check and review all of those resumes. To save more time and avoid the hassle of long resume screening process, ATS becomes an alternative used by most large companies in the world.  

The bad news is, ATS speaks only with its own code and language, and thus gives you no chance if you cannot follow them through. According to a research, ATS rejects most of the resumes even before the resumes are read by human. Regardless of your qualification and abilities, if you cannot meet the keywords and phrases required by the system, your resumes will only end up into trash.

Nonetheless, ATS remains widely-used due to one reason: time efficiency. It makes hiring manager’s lives easier and helps shortlisting candidates faster. These tips below will help you pass this filter and get your resume shortlisted:

1.       Keep formatting simple

Simplicity is the best policy. The same rule applies to ATS, too. Unless you apply for job roles that require creative design, stick with simple format of a resume. In general, ATS is designed to recognise standard formatting that does not require much modification.

Therefore, you will need to eliminate shadings, logos, and use only formal font styles such as Times New Roman and Arial in your resume. Include only standard sections such as Education, Working Experience, Skills, and Qualifications. Unless you are asked to, do not add unfamiliar headings and sections as it will only confuse the system.

2.       Use correct keywords

As stated previously, ATS talks in its own language. In order to successfully get shortlisted, you have to learn using its language as well. To optimise your keyword choices for the resume, you can include phrases used in the job description. For example, if the job description says, “the company is looking for a ‘project manager’, do not use term ‘team leader’ in your resume. Avoid using acronym without writing the full name, or else the system cannot read it properly. Do not use too much keywords as it will only make your resume lose the focus.

3.       Avoid spelling mistakes

Not only ATS, human reader will also toss your resume right away when they spot spelling mistakes on it. If you want to get shortlisted and land on the first interview, make sure that you have checked your resume well before hitting ‘Send’ button.

Sometimes, you cannot recognise your own error. So when needed, you can ask someone else to proofread your resume and point if there are some mistakes.

Towards the end, if your resume successfully passes through the ATS, it will give you a bigger opportunity to land the first round of interview. As for now, all you need to do is practice the tips listed above and improve on your resume content to win over the algorithms.

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