Jobseeker Reveals How to Get Past Recruiting Bots

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a great resource for everyone involved in the hiring process … except, maybe, the jobseekers themselves. Could you be passing over great talent because your “recruiting bots” overlooked something in a candidate’s résumé?


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Andrew Seaman, recently covered recruiting bots in an article on LinkedIn and offered tips for jobseekers looking to make it past artificial intelligence (AI) “gatekeepers.” Could your ATS be blocking top talent? We’ll look at a few of the ideas Seaman has outlined, here.

Focus on the Job Description

If you’re using an ATS in your recruiting process, you know that you must feed the “bot” specific information in order for it to work properly. “Since the systems often work by looking for keywords and phrases, it’s important to know which ones to use,” says Seaman.
Seaman suggests that not many jobseekers are aware of this and are therefore not using keywords or phrases in his or her résumé. If you’re working directly with jobseekers, you must relay this information. Inform jobseekers that in order to stand out among the crowd, they must match how they present themselves with what the job description is requesting.
For example, if the job description says the company is looking for someone who can produce SEO driven content for the company’s website, make sure the jobseeker can convey how he or she has managed or produced SEO content in the past. By focusing on the term “SEO,” this will get the jobseeker one step closer to making it past biased bots.
Chris Villanueva, founder and CEO of Let’s Eat, Grandma, also suggests focusing on additional keywords, such as location, certifications and degrees, and hard skills. Villanueva also suggests having jobseekers include their job titles. However, if the jobseeker has a trendy title—such as Director of First Impressions, AKA receptionist—in his or her current position, it may not make it past the new employers ATS.
In situations like these, the onus is on the employer. Stop creating trendy job titles! It may be a unique way to attract talent, but in the long run, you’re hurting your chances of actually landing these candidates, since most jobseekers aren’t using these titles in their résumés.

Nicely Designed, Instantly Discarded

Seaman also says to avoid using design-heavy elements in a résumé. Jobseekers may think that a nicely designed résumé will allow him or her to stand out, however, these résumés are being overlooked because robots can’t “read” them.
Dana Leavy-Detrick, director and founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, says “graphics, tables and pictures often trip up the applicant tracking systems, which look to strip out information.” Make sure jobseekers are avoiding tables and text boxes. Also, inform candidates that they should be utilizing the header and footer space, and filling these areas with pertinent information.
Leavy-Detrick says to avoid tripping up the application tracking system, jobseekers should be following traditional résumé outlines and formats. If jobseekers want to stand out, Leavy-Detrick says to use lines, different font weights, and a little bit of color.

Humans Have Final Say

Not all companies use ATS in the recruiting process, which means some of these ATS “best practices” are obsolete. However, jobseekers should keep these tips in mind because eventually, the résumé will get into the hands of your hiring manager.
Is it better to have a résumé loaded with keywords and phrases, but not enough descriptive info to give you a sense of the candidate? Balance is key, and only jobseekers who understand this have a chance of standing out among the crowd.
If you currently use an ATS, has a “fancy” résumé made it past your recruiting bots? If so, what key information did you input in order to allow some of the design elements to come through? Or do you have recruiters scan and monitor all résumés that make it into the ATS? Share your best practices for utilizing recruiting bots in the comments section, below.

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