How ATS Resume Scanning Software Actually Works
As a Professional Resume Writer, I often receive questions from clients regarding what to expect when uploading their new resume to a company’s website. The concern is understandable because much of the online job application process hinges on your resume being scanned by ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems), such as Taleo, and then selected for further consideration.
Throughout a series of blog articles, I will examine how Applicant Tracking System treats various resume formats (tables vs. non-tables), sections (contact information, experience, education, etc.) as typography (large font size) as well as the function vs. chronological resume format.
When I hear a statistic such as “75% of resumes are rejected by ATS scanners” or am told that any resume that includes a table will be automatically rejected, I roll my eyes. When you consider that businesses of all sizes struggle to locate and retain qualified talent, it should follow that a company would not deploy and insist on using resume scanning software (ATS) that with the potential to cripple an enterprise’s future talent pool by rejecting qualified applicants.
“Enterprises would not deploy ATS Scanning Software if there lost out of any substantial number of qualified applicants.”
From a competitive perspective, a vendor that can effectively scan and analyze 95% of incoming resumes, will enjoy a major advantage over another software firm that can only scan 75% of resumes. I have yet to see one piece of sales collateral from any ATS software vendor hyping their platform’s ability to “outscan” the competitor. Either, ATS software companies are not concerned with resume scanning functionality (illogical) software companies believe that it is impossible to properly scan resumes (improbable), or the ATS resume scanning software has reached a tipping point where it works well and continued enhancements incremental improvements (most reasonable).
Side note: All software, including the Resume Screening variety, goes through an extensive quality assurance and testing phase prior to release. Because ATS software constantly evolves and has been on the market for 10+ years, software developers have had ample time to refine their systems.
We’ll cover the following topics:
- When a PDF Version of Your Resume Will be Rejected
- Using Tables within a Resume
- Keyword Stuffing
- Cloaking/Hidden Text
- Using Adobe Photoshop/Graphic Design Software
1. When a PDF Version of Your Resume Will be Rejected
Because I spent the first half years of my undergraduate studies focused on computer programing, much of the ATS scanner software information floating around the Internet immediately struck me out as being inaccurate or simply silly. Simply put, using a PDF version of your resume that is created from a Microsoft Word files is usually fine. Using a PDf file created from a flatbed scanner is not okay because ATS Scanners are not OCR Scanners.
As long as you can copy and paste text from your PDF file, it is fine to upload.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) examines the shape of a symbol and attempts to identify it as a letter, number or symbol. OCR is the type of scanning software used to scan paper copies of books and documents into digital documents. When a company requests a Microsoft Word version of your resume, they are filtering out paper resumes that have been scanned by traditional flatbed scanners and then converted to a PDF file. It follows that you only use PDF files that allow you to highlight, copy and paste text.