Optimize Your Job Search for ATS: Humans Read Last

This article is part of a series of helping you optimize your job search for ATS.

In the modern job market, the human hiring decision-maker is often the last person to read your resume. The initial gatekeeper is typically an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which scans and filters resumes before any human eyes see them. This automated process can be both a blessing and a curse. While it helps hiring managers manage the large volume of applications, it also means that your resume must first meet the ATS criteria before it has a chance to impress a human reader.

ATS software operates by scanning resumes for keywords that match the job description. If your resume lacks these keywords, or if it’s formatted in a way that the ATS can’t easily read, it might be automatically discarded. This underscores the importance of tailoring your resume for each job application, ensuring it includes relevant keywords and follows a straightforward, ATS-friendly format. A well-optimized resume will pass through the ATS filters, increasing the likelihood that it will reach a hiring manager's desk.

Once your resume makes it past the ATS, it finally reaches the human hiring decision-maker. This person will look for more nuanced qualities that an ATS cannot detect, such as personality fit, creativity, and cultural alignment with the company. Therefore, while it’s crucial to optimize your resume for the ATS, it’s equally important to ensure it remains engaging and informative for the human reader. Striking this balance can significantly improve your chances of landing an interview and ultimately securing the job.