The transition to ATS and resume parsing as we have discussed previously is occurring faster than expected. The availability of low cost ATS and parser tools have allowed smaller operates to jump on this bandwagon and introduce robots at the initial stages of resume review.
This is where the challenge for both consumers and professionals starts. In the current market the first review of your resume is more likely to be completed by a robot; a parser tool or ATS where specific data collection is required. Human interaction is normally not occurring until the candidate has been selected as a possible suitable match to the identified requirements; by the robot. What this means is that no longer is a resume about gaining visual attraction, simply it is about ensuring that the content identifies them as a suitable candidate.
So how does it work?
Coming from an IT background I can start talking about the data entities and schemas, creation of data specific records and extraction of content in relation to how the resume may be stored as a structured XML file or a non-structured XML file. This will however most likely bore all of the individuals reading this article. To ensure that you all finish this post with understanding at least some information on parser tools and ATS’s , I am going to skip over the technical jargon and provide a high level summary of the process. The process can be summarised in generalist terms as:
- The job description is identified.
- The robot is programmed to look for specific keywords and content in align with the core requirements of the role. Information includes:
- Number of times a keyword appears (semantic specific search technology used within lower end parser tools and ATS’s)
- Context surrounding specific keywords
- Alignment of how far back the keyword appears specific to job experience (age of the experience)
- Relevance of the keyword within the context of information provided
- Non-specific keywords which may align to the required industry experience and skills of the role
- Candidate profiles are identified as existing or new
- Data records are created or updated with extracted relevant information
- Candidates meeting specifically programmed criteria are identified by the robot
- Key contact information is extracted by the tool and forwarded as part of a candidate summary to the key contact(s) within the system
Seems simple doesn’t it?
Unfortunately though the challenge does not stop there. New and improved parser tools and ATS’s are programmed to identify the context of the keyword; they have been “humanised”. No longer can you just throw keywords into the mix throughout your resume, the tool itself is going to look for how that keyword relates to the information provided around it and assess this for suitability. Not only is the tool capable of identifying the keyword, but it is capable of assessing whether this keyword relates to specific experience or just simply education; and then age the experience based on this. Many parser tools and ATS’s will still utilise keywords, which is why they are still an important focus of your resume. However, you must ensure that you substantiate this information throughout your employment summary or the robot may miss you all together.
So how do you choke the ATS?
This is a term used within the recruitment industry about resumes that do not meet the fundamental requirements of e-recruitment. Many individuals are not aware of this and we have to highlight that some e-recruitment tools are capable of handling all of the “choking” hazards mentioned below. But when it comes to your success to interview we recommend to always err on the side of caution. Specific issues that can choke an ATS:
- Heavily formatted documents.
- Graphics and images.
- Non-standardised phone number formats.
- Tables and text boxes.
- Core information only contained in the header and footer.
- Creative text.
- Font at point 8 or below.
Some recruiters and HR departments will have set up the system to allow a resume to be uploaded with the candidate profile. In this instance the recruiter can return to the manual process and assess candidates themselves. However, in most instances unless the robot identifies the candidate they run the risk of not being considered.
This in no way is a reflection of their capabilities. Rather it is that the shortlisting of candidates occurs effectively for a suitable number of other applicants so the recruiter does not need to look any further. So at a high level this is how parser tools and ATS’s work with resumes. There is no standard format nor is there a single tool that is recommended globally that will work for all job seekers.
With this in mind the only option is to ensure that your resume is written ‘erring in the side of caution’ and if you are not getting a response, talk to a professional that understands these tools.