More companies are using some form of applicant tracking software (ATS) to manage applications and candidates, and this number continues to grow. ATS systems are more likely to be used in large companies with more than 100 employees, but now that many brands are cloud-based and affordable, even smaller companies are starting to use them.
Even if you personally hand your resume to a CEO, HR representative, or any networking colleague, it is likely that at some point, it will be scanned by an ATS in the applicant screening or interview process. Be smart and always submit an ATS-compatible, or sometimes referred to as ATS-friendly, resume.
But, can you bypass the ATS?
Remember: People hire people. Ultimately, if you can get your resume in the hands of the hiring manager, recruiter, or company owner directly, you may not have to worry about applicant tracking systems in order to get an interview initially. Many jobs are never formally advertised or posted, so ALWAYS network and share your resume.
Nevertheless, I recently had a person call frantic because she had “networked in” to her dream job and already had 4 interviews with a major medical device company for a 6-figure sales manager position. Her scheduled interview with CEO was in 3 days when she received a call from her “in” at the company telling her CEO wanted to cancel interview. Why? Because the CEO had sent her resume to HR, and the resume ranked below company’s acceptable level, which meant she was considered unqualified for the position. Therefore, the CEO wanted to cancel the interview.
WOW! She was devastated. Unfortunately, it happens a lot more than people realize, and it can happen to you if you are not prepared.
This story does have a happy ending. The woman partnered with StartingBlock Career Services to revamp her resume, and received interview coaching to respond and handle with the CEO and ATS situation. She was proud of her new impressive resume filled with keywords, accomplishments, metrics, and results. In the end, she went to the interview and aced it! She then received an offer, negotiated a higher salary with her resume to solidify her capabilities, and continues to refer people to StartingBlock Career Services.
It’s a misconception to believe that if you submit your resume through your network, that it will bypass the ATS system during the process.
Applicant tracking systems fulfill several purposes. The first is to manage applications for positions, especially where there is a high volume of applicants. Research shows companies receive an average of 250 applications per job posting. Large companies, like Google, receive up to 75,000 applications per week.
The second purpose is to screen out candidates who lack the required skills for the job. With online applications, it’s easy for job seekers to apply for dozens or even hundreds of jobs, even though their qualifications do not match the position requirements at all. The ATS allows the hiring manager to screen out irrelevant applicants, which is why it’s critical, when you are a good fit for a position, to have a resume that aligns with the job posting and highlights your qualifications.
Be aware that your resume content, as well as the resume format, can hurt your ranking in ATS systems. Most downloadable resume templates do not scan well since they contain invisible boxes. Improperly formatted resumes, which are not ATS-friendly, will negatively impact your chances for an interview. At StartingBlock Career Services, we partner with clients and review your career goals. We educate you on best resume strategies and encourage you to ask questions. StartingBlock Career Services delivers quality, ATS-compatible resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, and coaching for a successful job search that will generate interviews and allow you to say YES to a great offer!