Rather than focusing on making your resume ATS compliant, I am currently recommending that your time will be better spent making the connections that will get your resume in front of the hiring manager. Usually this occurs by getting a referral from someone that you know that has access to this person.
The latest statistics indicate that approximately 115-250 resumes are received for each available position. Of those resumes, only 2-3% make it through the ATS and actually score an interview. Online searching is quick and easy but for most people, it is not very effective. Since the rate of success with job boards and on-line applications is rather slim, I recommend not getting too caught up in trying to “beat the bot”.
Do I still recommend using keywords and ATS compliant formatting? Absolutely! It’s always a good idea to run a job posting through “Tag Crowd” to double check that you have included pertinent keywords. It also continues to be resume “best practice” to use headings that delineate the different sections of your resume.
Although you may be in the 2-3% that make it through the ATS and land your dream job, the majority of job seekers should be strategizing on how to get their resume in front of the hiring manager. Instead of focusing on understanding the ATS, seek referrals to hiring managers at your target companies. This is the time-tested and most effective job search method.
Gerry Crispin (of CareerXRoads) states that 100% of referred candidates who meet the qualifications for a job will get an interview. People interview people that “their people” know and hire people that they like. Working on your networking and interview skills are what will get the most traction in your job search.
The most common method of networking is through your contact base of friends, family, neighbors, on-line groups, and community associations. LinkedIn is another great way to find out who you know that might have a connection to hiring managers. LinkedIn also is a great place to establish your “brand” – commenting on discussion boards/groups cements your on-line presence and helps to open up doors that get you noticed.
Although it is important to understand the scope of the ATS and tailor a resume that meets those guidelines, I’d rather see you spend your time and energy getting your resume on the desk of the hiring manager!