When you’re looking for a new job, understanding the process employers follow can help make your resume stand out. Many employers are faced with stacks of resumes to review but need to quickly fill a position with a highly qualified candidate. To help them sort through resumes, many rely on what’s called applicant tracking system (ATS) software. This software scans resumes in search of keywords that flag a resume as appropriate to the available job position. And as you can imagine, if your resume includes specific ATS keywords, it will land at the top of the stack.
How to find ATS keywords
So how can you find ATS keywords to be sure you include them in your resume? First, read through the job description carefully. Look for specific words and phrases that are used to describe the job. These include duties, education, certifications, licenses and responsibilities related to the job. Also be sure to include the company’s name and exact position title in your resume, specifically in your objective statement (for example, “I am seeking a [title] position with [name of company].”)
Don’t forget to include both hard and soft skills. You can easily find these in the qualifications list—include them as they apply to your work history and background.
Another great source of ATS keywords is terms and phrases related to your industry. If they’re not apparent in the job description, you can easily find some by Googling “[industry] keywords.”
Where to place ATS keywords in your resume
The next step is knowing where to include the keywords. Remember that you want to make your resume readable for the recruiter or hiring manager, and also the ATS software. It’s a delicate balance! Insert them in a readable way into the summary statement, work history, skills and education sections. If you find yourself getting stuck, it can help to write these sections up as you normally would, and then replace words with ATS keywords as they make sense. There’s no way to know exactly how many keywords the right amount is, so adding them as they make sense is your best bet.
Prepare your resume for the ATS software
Submit it as a .pdf file, as this is the standard file most ATS software can read. If you can’t save as .pdf, choose .doc or .docx. Stay away from adding images or graphics to your resume, as these won’t be recognized by the ATS software and may cause your resume to be rejected.
Need more guidance?
It always helps to work with a recruiter for help finding your next job. And Inter-Connect can help. To learn more about us and our available jobs, visit our job search page today!