This is a guest blog post written by VanHack Premium member Rodrigo Ramos, who is now working as a Product Manager at Cymax Stores in Vancouver. Congrats Rodrigo! Before I start, it is important to say that I am a Brazilian IT professional that recently moved to Vancouver. At my first month here I have been frustrated since I applied to tons of jobs and hadn’t received any call in a one-month timestamp. None. Zero. That made me realize I was probably doing things in the wrong way, and later on I discovered the so called Application Tracking Systems (ATS). As a Brazilian professional, I was aware that big businesses had softwares to help them filter the candidates at the first step of the hiring process. But the thing I was not aware of is that those platforms are much more accessible to companies in Canada, and most of the companies, regardless their size, actually uses ATS systems. Furthermore, those systems are getting much smarter than just counting the number of keywords on a Curriculum. With that being said, I believe the tips are particularly helpful for newcomers that know little about ATS systems. After being blindfolded about this subject, I spent a whole week reading about ATS in several blogs and sources, but not limited to that. I have also watched a few demonstrations of ATS platforms on the internet from their own vendors. So now I actually understand how most tools works and feel ready to play their game. The essential tips I will give you below teach you how to sell yourself using the right words, which is way different than lying or exaggerating when talking about your qualifications. The most challenging thing here is to look for the right words but not forgetting that a human will read your resume later on in case you move to the next phase.

1 – Check Keyword Density

Copy/Paste the Job description into any word counter on the internet, such as WordCounter. By doing so, you can see a Keyword density of the job post. This is an excellent way to change a few words in your resume to match the most common used words. Note: This tip is made to adapt the skills you may already have. Do not try to flood your resume since most ATS systems can identify keyword stuffing.

2- Match the job title when applicable

A “Product Owner” is a person that makes the bridge between Technical and Business teams in large projects. For some reason, a few companies named the same role as a “Product MANAGER”. If your previous company used to call you a Product Owner and the job you are applying for is a “Product MANAGER” you should adapt your resume to the job posting. A similar case happens for developers, where they may have been hired as for “Software Engineer jobs” in their home country with broad responsibilities including front-end. When applying for opportunities such as “Full-Stack Developer”, they should also adapt the old job title in their CV. For the ATS systems, that could mean the difference from a “Good Match” to a “Perfect match”.

3 – Granulate your terms

If you are a great digital marketer, you should detail your experience on each channel. For example, if your experience as a marketer was majorly on Social Networks, you want to make sure you will use all terms under that industry. e.g. “I have achieved a 30% increase in the number of clicks”. If you are experienced in “several Javascript frameworks” make sure you name them all. If you are comfortable working with “different databases”, name them all and so on.

4 – Use descriptive language AND acronyms

Make sure you describe each term that may be shortened, even if the market already knows what it means. If you have increased the CTR of a big campaign, you should say something like “I have successfully raised the Click Through Rate (CTR) in 20% for a major marketing campaign” / “I have doubled the number of unique visitors into the main website by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques” / “I am a User Experience (UX) enthusiast”

5 – Build a Resume (other than your CV)

Those tips are very useful when creating your CV to be uploaded into job posting sites, but keep in mind that you may need to have a Resume for in-person interviews, where you should be much more targeted to avoid confusing the recruiter when trying to read a huge Curriculum.

6 – Use a proper filetype

Some ATS systems support several file types; some don’t. Since you never know how new or accurate is the ATS system on the other side, prefer to use the old “.doc” format (even .docx may be difficult for a few parsers). The best case scenarios for parsers, of course, is “.txt” file. But the problem in using TXT is that there is no formatting at all, and most companies use the same file for parsing and human-reading if the candidate moves forward in the hiring process. Because of that reason, I suggest you use the DOC format (Microsoft Office 97-2003) since it gives you the possibility of basic formatting and still being able to be parsed.

7 – Use the correct CV formatting

Do not use data formatted into tables, underscore, headers or footers! Prefer bullet points instead, the closer to the plain text the better. The ATS systems have a hard time parsing information from tables formatted in Word. Although a few of them can, it is better to take the safe side and give the parsing a hand. Cheers! Rod.

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