Graphic of a resumeMany large employers use applicant tracking systems to filter applications based on important keywords and narrow down the applicant pool for a specific job. Find out how to tailor your resume to maximize your chances of your resume making it to the next stage of the application process.

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Applicant Tracking Systems: Is Your Resume Hitting the Mark?

Oct 25, 2018

By Lisa Jordan, President, Human Solutions LLC

Graphic of a resumeEvery day, employers receive hundreds of resumes from qualified job candidates hoping to land an interview. A common source of frustration for jobseekers is that many never hear back about their resume submission. While there may be many reasons for this, today we'll take a look at one particular reason and show you how to use technology to strengthen your resume and increase your chances of being called for an interview.

Because many large employers may get overwhelmed by the number of resumes they receive, your resume may never make it to a "live" person to be reviewed. Many of these companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen resumes. What is an ATS? According to Wikipedia, it is "a software application that ... filters applications automatically, based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience and schools attended."

Whether your resume makes it to the human resource department or hiring manager may depend on whether it contains important keywords being screened for. Even top candidates and jobseekers with well-written resumes may miss the mark if they are not customized to the position being applied for.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, "Your Résumé vs. Oblivion" (2017), more than 90% of large companies use computerized ATS. Almost all Fortune 500 companies reportedly use these programs.

Taking Advantage of the System

What can you do to maximize your chances of passing through the ATS screening or at least achieve a higher ranking?

O*NET-SOC AutoCoder is a free tool to assist you in analyzing your resume to see how closely aligned it is to the type of job you're applying for.

The process involves 4 steps:

  1. Visit
  2. Under the Job Description text box, copy and paste your entire resume, excluding your contact information.
  3. Click Search.
  4. Review your results.

Your results will include types of job titles that match your resume from the highest score to the lowest score. It also provides clickable links to view these job titles.

If your resume scores below 80% for the job or type of job you're applying for, you may want to do some additional editing to line up your keywords with those in the job description. Improving your resume with this tool is simple using the steps below:

  1. Review the jobs that you're interested in.
  2. Identify keywords within the job description that match your skills.
  3. Edit your resume to match the terms that are used in the description.
  4. Make sure that you only include skills that you have.

Once you have made changes, repeat Steps 1-4 until you achieve a higher score. Keep making changes until you reach the 90 percentile range.

This no-cost tool makes resume customization easier and increases your chances for an interview. Take a few minutes to check your resume and see if it hits the mark or needs a few improvements.

Finding help with your resume

If you're eligible for Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program, you can access free supports and services to help you polish your resume and increase your chances of having the right people see your application.

The Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, you can work with Ticket program service providers, like Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies, to receive the supports and services you need to succeed in the workforce.

Many ENs and State VR agencies will help you with your resume, and can offer you tips and guidance on how to capture an employer's attention, whether they use ATS or not. And once you've been contracted for an interview, they can help you prepare to meet with a potential employer, talk about your experience and skills and make a great impression.

If you missed this week's WISE webinar, the video and transcript will be available on the Choose Work website in 2 weeks. Check it out to learn more about creating and polishing your resume and acing a job interview!

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Lisa Jordan headshotAbout the blogger

Lisa Jordan is President of Human Solutions LLC, a national Employment Network with the Ticket to Work program. Lisa holds an M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Psychology and has been passionate about providing workforce development and disability-related services to government, community-based organizations, and businesses for over 20 years. Lisa is the Board Chair of the National Employment Network Association (NENA) and proudly served in the United States Navy during Operation Desert Storm.

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