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Why Nobody Looked at Your Resume (Online Application Tips)

When you apply for a position online, you might think it will be seen by the Human Resource department or a Hiring Manager.

Have you ever felt like your application is going to a “black hole” since you usually don’t get called for an interview? You’re probably making a common mistake with your application/resume.

Who will see my online application?

If you’ve done everything right, that will happen, but before a human ever glances at your resume (for an estimated 6 seconds), it’s scanned by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Since online applications take time, it’s smart to increase the odds of having the computer approve of your application to the next step—being seen by an actual human!

Save time with online applications!

Most of the time spent on an application is data entry. It can be exhausting to keep entering the same information—especially if you have to think of lengthy responses to many of the same questions. Therefore, the best way to make sure your application process is as efficient as possible. Keep a copy of your relevant information such as previous employment, reason for leaving, etc.

Increase the odds with keywords

The computer program which scans your application and resume will reject your application if you don’t have enough of the right keywords.

The job description, position, and industry will have a certain set of desired keywords. The job description should list basic requirements and describe the duties of the position. The most helpful job descriptions also describe the ideal applicant. Within this description is a list of keywords.

It helps to know more about the basic demands of the position. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics have created a website called O*Net which includes full descriptions of the duties and demands of nearly every job title you could imagine. If more than a handful of people in the United States are (legally) employed in a certain position, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics likely has created a report about that position. This is why O*Net is a great source of information. If you would like to get a list of common keywords for a position, check the report for your target job title.

The easiest way to avoid rejection from the computer’s application scanning program (ATS)

Your resume must be in the right format for the computer program to scan.

It is very common for applicants to be eliminated—even after spending a great deal of time—just because they sent an attachment that could not be easily read by the scanning systems. For best results, follow these tips:

  • REQUESTED FORMAT: An easy way to remember this—if it isn’t requested, it gets rejected! Always look for information on which formats are preferred when applying. Look closely for instructions on attaching your resume. Using the requested format is the BEST way to avoid rejection. It is unfortunately common for applicants to think that a large company should have a system that will scan the attachment in any format—regardless of the request for a specific format.
  • .doc: The most preferred format for your resume is .doc from Microsoft Office’s Word program.
  • .docx: The newest .docx can cause problems, so save the document as a .doc instead of a .docx.
  • .rtf/.txt: Rich-Text Formatting .rtf and Text .txt are not accepted by all Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs).
  • .pdf: You would think most recruiting software can scan a simple PDF—and you’d be wrong! The PDF format is rejected by many ATSs, so only use the PDF format if requested.

Why don’t companies use systems that can scan everything? They don’t have much incentive to change. The fewer applicants that make it to the next step means less time is devoted to looking at so many resumes. Microsoft Word is still the “gold standard” and if you don’t know the (unspoken) rules, you won’t make the cut.

On average 144 people apply for an entry-level position, and 89 people apply for professional-level positions. An overworked Human Resources department would likely look upon a higher percentage of rejected applicants as a blessing. So, consider the cost, time, and training that goes into a new Applicant Tracking System—and the bonus of a reduced number of applicants that go on to the next step, and it makes sense that most companies don’t have the incentive to make the application process any easier for the applicant.

If you don’t have Microsoft Word, it’s far less expensive than previous versions. You can purchase a monthly subscription instead of buying the program for hundreds of dollars which was, until quite recently, the only way to use it.

How to make it to the next step!

Once your Résumé and relevant documents have been scanned, your application could be one of the chosen few which will be seen. In order to impress the person who views the Résumé, you should use results of your work to demonstrate why you would be the best choice. If your Résumé fails to impress the person who reads it, you will not likely reach the interview process.

For guidance on creating a resume that will impress, contact CrossRoads at 317-842-8881.