Resume Prep

What Do Employers Want?

That’s the most basic question of any career search. This exercise is designed to help you answer that question by “sampling the field” of your choice and identifying the most commonly sought skills, experiences, credentials and characteristics. How to Beat the Applicant Tracking System Applicant tracking systems are a software that manages the hiring process for companies. The ATS provides an interface for candidates to apply online and for managers and recruiters to view and search through those resumes. An ATS is a must have for companies of all sizes to streamline and automate HR responsibilities for a more efficient process. The ATS matches resumes with open positions in the system by searching the resume for keywords from the job description. Advantages for Job Seekers Applicants can better position their resumes by loading it with job-related keywords to take advantage of a system’s automated screening tool that index and crawl submissions. This might bring an applicant’s resume to the forefront, where otherwise it might have been overlooked through manual submission and review. Disadvantages If you are the type of candidate who skims through job descriptions and applies to every position a company has available with the same resume, the ATS will be your downfall. These systems aren’t designed with the candidate in mind. It will not accept skills that are “close” or “almost” what the position is looking for. If your resume does not have the specific words from the job description, the ATS will deny your application. Position Yourself for Success Follow these guidelines to ensure that your resume does not remain dormant in the database:
  • Read descriptions more than once and get an understanding of what a company wants.
  • Tailor your resume and job application to the specific job requirements referenced in the posting — emphasize your relevant experience and skills in the areas that are critical to that position.
  • Add specific keywords into the application that are referenced in the job posting, so that applicant screening tools that index and crawl submissions for certain key terms and phrases will pick them up.
  • Avoid using ornate fonts, italics, underline, columns, shading, shadowing, and graphics. Sparingly use vertical and horizontal lines. These can all cause problems for the system and it will not read your resume correctly. Use a normal font theme with boldface or all capital letters in plain black text.
  • The best written resume isn’t as valuable as having contacts, a network and connections within a company. Optimizing your resume, focusing on keywords in the ATS interface and still getting out to network are the steps to finding a new opportunity.

Featured Resources

Graduate Student Career Planning Guide


The Career Center, in partnership with the Toulouse Graduate School, recognizes that with your …

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