Applicant Tracking Systems: Your Job Search Nemesis

Applicant Tracking Systems: Your Job Search Nemesis

First, the bad news:

In a comprehensive study a few years ago, the Talent Function Group found:

On average, 1,000 individuals will see a job posted to one of the large job boards.
200 will begin the application process.
100 will complete the application.
75 of those 100 resumes will be screened out by either the ATS or a recruiter.
25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager.
4 to 6 will be invited for an interview.
1 to 3 of them will be invited back for final interview.
1 will be offered that job and 80 percent of those receiving an offer will accept it.

The good news?

While there is nothing you can do about how many people see and apply for a job, one key point of attack in your job search is to get your resume through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)  most companies use to screen your resume for the correct terms. The secret to most ATS is that they look for two things; industry buzz terms and how often these terms are used in your resume.

How Can I Find My Industry’s Buzz Terms?

One step in your job search is to consider actions, skills, tools, resources, and even computer programs you use in your daily work. If you are a graphic design manager, you most likely lead teams, work with clients, ensure compliance, and manage budgets. Those would be some of your key terms. If you are an administrative assistant, you would most likely be using Microsoft Office Suite or iWork. Those programs would be key terms to include.

If you are transitioning to a new career or trying to move to a higher level role, a great resource is to study a few job leads you would like to apply to. Your job search should include terms, skills, and responsibilities that these leads have in common. You can find great leads on sites like LinkedIn.com or Indeed.com.

Here is a sample job lead for a web design manager in Los Angeles, California:

We are an online retailer merchandising our own designs. The ability to express creative ideas is crucial. Understanding new fads and trends is necessary. Our Web graphic designer has to understand a target audience and how best to reach that audience through artistic work.

As our Graphic Designer, you will be a leader providing top of the line graphics for the Frasier Sterling Brand which includes but is not limited to the following: website, digital communications, print collateral and event graphics, which all become inputs to cutting edge marketing campaigns targeted to Retail Stores and end users who shop on our site.

The successful candidate will have excellent verbal and written communication skills, the ability to multitask and manage multiple projects, will be detail oriented, and can be assertive yet pleasant and professional. And you must love design!

Essential Functions:

WEB SITE WORK- Works from concept to completion on a multitude of projects, managing your own time, and delivering pixel perfect, print ready files and an amazing web site. Develops creative concepts from creative brief and brings them to life on our website and other electronic media. Will work closely with our advertising agency and you must have experience with FB and other electronic marketing campaigns. Develops and presents conceptual design comps for approval. Prepares final production ready files for Web and print.

Selects, supervises, and obtains cost estimates from outside vendors such as photographers, illustrators, or printers. Designs within an agile web development environment, including mobile. Manages digital assets.

Requirements/Skills/Qualifications:

Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from an accredited program; or relevant academic discipline. 

Online Retailer Web Design experience a must

5-8 years minimum design firm/agency/in house experience as a graphic designer trained in both web and Print.

Strong understanding of design principles (color theory, typography, composition, photo art direction, etc.) and best practices from print to online.

You must be an expert in the Adobe Creative Suite and have a working knowledge of hand-coded HTML, XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

A high attention to design detail, with an interest in usability and user experience. Be able to defend your thought process.

Love your work – and make us love it too.

Key Terms Applied

What would be the key terms that the employer plugged into their ATS to see who shall pass, and who shall fall from grace?

Here you go:

We are an online retailer merchandising our own designs. The ability to express creative ideas is crucial. Understanding new fads and trends is necessary. Our Web graphic designer has to understand a target audience and how best to reach that audience through artistic work.

As our Graphic Designer, you will be a leader providing top of the line graphics for the Frasier Sterling Brand which includes but is not limited to the following: website, digital communications, print collateral and event graphics, which all become inputs to cutting edge marketing campaigns targeted to Retail Stores and end users who shop on our site.

The successful candidate will have excellent verbal and written communication skills, the ability to multitask and manage multiple projects, will be detail oriented, and can be assertive yet pleasant and professional. And you must love design!

Essential Functions:

WEB SITE WORK- Works from concept to completion on a multitude of projects, managing your own time, and delivering pixel perfect, print ready files and an amazing web site. Develops creative concepts from creative brief and brings them to life on our website and other electronic media. Will work closely with our advertising agency and you must have experience with FB and other electronic marketing campaigns. Develops and presents conceptual design comps for approval. Prepares final production ready files for Web and print.

Selects, supervises, and obtains cost estimates from outside vendors such as photographers, illustrators, or printers. Designs within an agile web development environment, including mobile. Manages digital assets.

Requirements/Skills/Qualifications:

Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from an accredited program; or relevant academic discipline.

Online Retailer Web Design experience a must

5-8 years minimum design firm/agency/in house experience as a graphic designer trained in both web and Print.

Strong understanding of design principles (color theory, typography, composition, photo art direction, etc.) and best practices from print to online.

You must be an expert in the Adobe Creative Suite and have a working knowledge of hand-coded HTML, XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

A high attention to design detail, with an interest in usability and user experience. Be able to defend your thought process.

Love your work – and make us love it too.

You’ll see it is a mix of skills, job responsibilities, and computer programs. Pay careful attention to when the employer uses strong terms like “…a must,” and “required,” and “strong understanding of…”

Generally, the closer your resume corresponds with the terms the employer uses, the better match you are, and more likely you are to get an interview. Don’t give up! Once you have an optimal resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile, in many ways, applying for jobs is simply a numbers game. Keep applying and you’ll eventually find the job best suited to your career goals.

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