Why is my application not getting past 1st base?

06-09-2023 Anita Hagarty

Imagine this scenario: You've poured hours into refining your resume, meticulously aligning every detail with the requirements of your chosen industries. But despite your best efforts, your applications seem to have evaporated into the digital ether. 'I've been there myself,' says Don Byers, Managing Director of Achieve Group Australia. 'It's frustrating when you know you're a perfect fit for the job, but your resume doesn't even make it to the recruiter's desk.' Take the case of Sara, a logistics expert with a thirst for success. After firing off 50 applications and receiving a grand total of zero callbacks, she decided to decipher the enigma of ATS optimization. 'It's like speaking two languages—yours and the ATS's,' says Sara. The result? A game-changing shift in her job search strategy.

ATS systems are the silent yet lethal players in today's job market, particularly in sectors like government, executive and administration. These systems favour keywords, qualifications, and specific criteria. 'Our recruiters are aided by these systems to manage the overwhelming volume of applications we receive,' explains Don. 'However, we understand the challenges candidates face. That's why understanding ATS optimisation is critical.' To help you navigate this labyrinth, here's a comprehensive guide to ensuring your resume passes the ATS litmus test:

  1. The Power of Simplicity: While an elaborate template might catch the discerning eye of a human recruiter, it can perplex an ATS. Simplicity is your best ally. Stick to clean and straightforward resume formats. 'Think of it as streamlining your professional story for a clear and concise read,' suggests Don.
  2. Keywords: Your Golden Tickets: Think of keywords as your golden tickets to the ATS party. Study the job description carefully, identify relevant keywords, and integrate them seamlessly into your resume. 'Keywords are the bridge that connects your qualifications to the job's requirements,' says Vickie Hooper – Recruiter at Achieve Group Australia. Let's say you're eyeing a trades job, and the posting is fixated on "heavy machinery operation." Make sure those keywords are strategically placed within your resume.
  3. The Magic of Standard Section Headings: Remember that ATS systems in the administration sector have a knack for identifying familiar patterns. Stick to recognised section headers like "Work Experience," "Education," and "Skills." These headers act as beacons for the ATS, leading it through the maze of your qualifications.
  4. Avoid Tables and Graphics: Flashy tables and captivating graphics might look impressive, but they're often lost in translation when ATS systems, particularly those in the warehouse and logistics sector, come into play. Opt for a format that translates effortlessly across platforms.
  5. Formats That Speak ATS: Speaking of formats, the universal language that ATS systems understand is "Word.doc". " These formats ensure your resume is parsed (input into the system) and understood correctly.
  6. Unifying Job Titles for Clarity: Streamline your employment history by using consistent job titles. For instance, if you held the role of "Site Coordinator" in the civil construction realm, consider adding "Project Supervisor" in parentheses. This clarity aids both human recruiters and the ATS in understanding your journey.

As the digital revolution continues to reshape the recruitment landscape, the ATS system has become the north star for recruiters, offering streamlined processes. 'Our goal is to find the best match for our team,' Achieve Group Australia affirms. However, for job seekers like you, it can sometimes feel like navigating a labyrinth. Fear not; armed with the right strategies, your resume can be a beacon that shines brightly, both in the digital realm and traditional evaluations.

The crucial lesson here is customisation. Just as you would not wear a one-size-fits-all outfit to a job interview, your resume must be tailored to suit the role you're aiming for. Embrace the art of customisation and consider each application a unique puzzle. Reflect the specific skills, experiences, and qualifications requested by the employer. 'Think of your resume as your introduction to the company. It's your chance to showcase why you belong here,' says Vickie. It's a conversation between you and the recruiter, facilitated by your resume.

In closing, imagine one of the Achieve recruiters, nodding in approval as they read your tailored resume. 'When I see a candidate who's put effort into understanding our needs, it shows their dedication,' Don shares. With the power of ATS optimisation and tailored customisation, your applications will no longer be lost in the digital abyss. They'll be met with the attention they deserve, on both human and digital fronts. Welcome to the new era of job hunting—where your resume becomes your greatest selling tool."