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EP 1676 A companion show to “Do Firms Actually Care About Descriptive Keywords on a Resume

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Do Applicant Tracking Systems Actually Care About Descriptive Keywords on a Resume?

My in answering this question, I want to delete the phrase, "actually care," because caring is a human emotion; these systems have no care whatsoever. Looking for keywords and in particular context is their entire reason for being.

That's what their job is. That's all that matters to them. There is very little discernment in most of the systems.

As someone are linked in group commented upon, as they turn this conversation in this direction, if the job description and the programming for the ATS says, "information technology" and you say data processing, there is a disconnect there. The system may not know that term unless it is been programmed to recognize that and you cannot make that assumption.

Applicant tracking systems are looking for a number of things. They are looking for:
1. Where in the document do you have the key terms for this job? Is it on page 4 word is likely to be 100 years old, or is it on page 1 word is likely to be more current?
2. They are trying to see where you live in relation to the job. Are you within reasonable proximity because some firms are not prepared to go through long distance job hunting.

On and on and on, an applicant tracking system is designed to narrow the field down based upon preprogrammed criteria that don't translate into caring but translate into, "Can this person get to our office and do this job? Do they have a history of dooming this job. Based upon these criteria?"

The answer to my question with regard to an applicant tracking system is, "Yes, it matters to the system and, thus, whether or not these keywords are there."

Going back to that LinkedIn group, which was a veterans group, 1 of the people who commented on the previous video called attention to the fact that he had gotten more than 100 responses on one post that he had put up for job. He knew some of the respondents had the right skills, but the resume did not get through the system because they did not use the correct terms.

If you are applying through an applicant tracking system, you always have to use the correct terms because the systems don't have much in the way of discernment programmed in.

You have to understand, they are not looking for gray. They are looking for , (black or white. Whether or not you have the experience or you don't. If you don't, or you are in the wrong geography (buzzer sound). If you do, you make it through the funnel.


Jeff Atlman - Job Hunting Coach - Job Search Coach based in Asheville NCJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1600 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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