Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Netiquette and Document Scanners (ASTs) - Via Netiquette IQ

Many large corporations and some smaller ones are now using applicant tracking systems (“ATS’s”) to filter upwards of 85% of all resumes. So the need for Netiquette compliance is critical for job-seekers and this need will undoubtedly extend to emails as well, if it hasn't already. These "robots" can be negotiated as discussed in the excellent article below.

Wiley Job Network  
Beating Resume Robots
By Heather Krasna

For years now, many companies have been using applicant tracking systems (“ATS’s”) to manage the volume of resumes that are submitted for jobs. As a job seeker, it’s hard to know which companies use an ATS, though in some cases it’s obvious—when you click the “apply” button, you are taken to a site like Silkroad, Taleo, iCIMS, JobVite, or Bullhorn (to name a few). Certain employers almost always use an ATS, while others, including most small companies and nonprofits, can’t afford them.

Why should you care? Because the ATS is often the first to “read” your resume—thus a computer software determines if a human will even see your resume. The ATS is used to scan resumes for keywords to screen out candidates. Some ATS software has strong “parsing” capability, being able to weight the keywords by positioning (closer to the top of the resume and/or repeated words getting more weight), while others just aren’t that smart.

There are several secrets for beating these resume robots so that your resume is read by a human:

·         Carefully read the job description; print it out and take a highlighter to the more technical terms, proper nouns, and verbs. Words or phrases that are repeated, words from the job title itself, names of software or foreign languages, names of licenses or certifications, or skills labeled as “required” should get extra attention.

·         Think like a computer, i.e., literally. If the job description asks for Excel, make sure you don’t list “MS Office.” Actually write “MS Excel.”

·         Copy and paste the job description into to get a word cloud showing the words that are repeated the most. Try software like to see how well your resume matches the job description.

·         Read in between the lines—a company asking for someone with consulting experience at a top firm might decide to scan for “Bain,” “Boston Consulting Group,” or “McKinsey.”

·         Make sure your resume is parsed correctly. For certain ATS’s, if you upload your resume it will be converted into a plain text version. If you can, check to make sure your resume converted correctly in the database.

·         Go to and look under “Companies,” then look up the company in question; click on the “Employee Insights” tab, then look on the right side-bar for the Top Skills of employees of the company—these are often your keywords.

A word of caution—there is no point in creating a resume with great keywords if you can’t back them up in real life. Don’t waste a recruiter’s time—and yours—by throwing in terms you haven’t earned the right to list in the resume. You will only fall apart the minute you are questioned in the interview.

And, finally, the real best way to beat the resume robot is to connect with a human in the first place. Build your professional network at your favorite companies to get an internal referral, and you won’t have to worry about resume robots at all.
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In addition to this blog, I have authored the premiere book on Netiquette, " Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email". You can view my profile, reviews of the book and content excerpts at:

 If you would like to listen to experts in all aspects of Netiquette and communication, try my radio show on BlogtalkRadio  and an online newsletter via have established Netiquette discussion groups with Linkedin and  Yahoo I am also a member of the International Business Etiquette and Protocol Group and Minding Manners among others. I regularly consult for the Gerson Lehrman Group, a worldwide network of subject matter experts and I have been contributing to the blogs Everything Email and emailmonday . My work has appeared in numerous publications and I have presented to groups such as The Breakfast Club of NJ Rider University and  PSG of Mercer County, NJ.