Did You Know That Recruiters Actually Don’t Read Your Resume?

applicant tracking system

How many blogs does one read before they finally draft a résumé that they think is up to the mark?

Multiple blogs and multiple suggestions later, we tend to finalize something out of either pure exhaustion of ideas, or that of brain power. In the end, we end up with a résumé that we think is somewhere around the mark- we’re not completely satisfied with it, and we can’t really point out where the problem really is, but there just is.

Unless you’re a recruiter, or a person well versed with the résumé screening process, there’s one truth about the résumé that you probably were not very familiar with. The secret to making the perfect resume lies in this secret, and once you acquaint yourself with the truth, you, too, will master the art of making the right resume that the recruiters can’t miss.


Here it is: The recruiters don’t really screen your résumé.

Yes! The six second test that everyone scares you about, is actually, done by a machine.

Well, a software.

The application tracking System, or the ATS, is a software that scans through your résumé, looking for relevant keywords that match the job search criteria.

Keywords are specific words or phrases in your résumé that match the job description.  And no, team player, self-motivated, and go-to person do not count as relevant keywords. These are considered extremely ambiguous in their meaning, and unless you’re a team head, people don’t really look for words like these.

What are keywords then? Here are a few job posts and keywords that a recruiter would generally look for:

Marketing: Digital Marketing, SEO, Google Analytics

Sales: Increased revenue by __, customer service, exceeding sales quotas, negotiating and closing, CRM

Graphic designer: Web design, Adobe Photoshop, design, brand, illustration, creative, marketing

And so on.

The keywords actually depend upon the job description which is why the résumé legends always warn you about changing your résumé in accordance to the job that you apply for.

90% of the Fortune 500 companies use ATS’ to do the primary screening of the applicants and an increasing number of companies are relying on software like Bullhorn, zohoRecruit, TalentRecruit and so on. After the software shortlist a couple of resumes that match the job requirements, they forward the same to the recruiters for final screening, and eventually the call for the interview.

The ATS’ remove the junk resumes and save the recruiters the trouble of going through conventional resumes with repetitive/safe words that the candidates believe will get them through to the interview.

It isn’t very hard to get through the ATS, however, it is a little complex to exactly match the requirements. There are a few generic guidelines that can get you through any ATS:

  1.       Don’t put your résumé in a PDF format, put it in a simple format like MS word, or text.
  2.       It works along the lines of SEO (search engine optimization), so make sure your résumé has keywords that were present in the ‘skills required in candidate’ section.
  3.       Don’t put fancy captions; the software is majorly programmed to recognize ‘Work Experience’, ‘Education’, ‘Contact Information’, and ‘Skills’.
  4.       Since it works like a generic Search engine, it will mark your résumé as spam if you keyword stuff it incessantly.
  5.       It is a sophisticated software, so despite years of people trying to dupe the machine, it will not be fooled by spelling mistakes, neither will it let go of complex formatting.
  6.       Be specific most of the ATS’ are not familiar with the full form of CPA, or that J2EE is a part of JAVA.
  7.       Job title is VERY important.

Basically, think of the ATS a new age recruiter who knows nothing about recruitment he’s given the job description and a résumé to see if they match or not. And for that new kid, who’s just trying to match words in the two documents to see if the requirement and the solution distinctly sound the same, keep your résumé as simple, clean and relevant as possible.

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