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An employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is not your friend. These systems were created to facilitate increasingly complex government reporting requirements around the hiring process. Both candidates and recruiters dislike the systems because 1) they depersonalize the hiring process and 2) they are difficult to navigate.

There are currently more than 175 different ATS, and they all use the same parsing software, which allows recruiters to “find” qualified applicants. Sadly, that parsing software does not allow keyword searches of pdf-formatted documents, so you may have an interminably long wait before a recruiter contacts you. Always submit your resume in Word format – and earlier versions of Word are preferable to more recent version(s).

Note also that recruiters don’t typically look for the BEST candidate; those who have a number of positions to fill look for qualified candidates, and candidates who apply in the early days of a job posting have an advantage because the interview process often begins significantly ahead of the posting deadline. Those who wait lose.

Ellie Vargo, MRW