What You Don’t Know About Resume Detection Software Could Be Sabotaging Your Job Search

October 31, 2021 0 Comments

Ten years ago, only large recruiting firms and corporations with large budgets could afford to use resume selection software as part of their talent acquisition process. Job seekers applying for small and medium-sized businesses were immune to the vagaries of these tools.

With the proliferation of the ‘software as a service’ delivery model, this is no longer true. Even fairly small companies can afford to adopt some form of resume extraction, selection, and management software, either directly or through a full-service recruiting solutions company like Staffback Inc.This means that job applicants have to be much more tech-savvy if they want to make sure their resume stands out.

How Resume Detection Software Works

First of all, let’s put the ‘Optical Character Recognition’ issues aside. There are only a few companies that still scan paper versions of resumes, so if you are in doubt about using italics, underline, bold, and color on your resume, you can just let it go.

Today’s resume management tools are substantially more sophisticated than older versions of OCR and have the ability to neatly handle a wide range of text-based content and formats. They typically include a module that extracts data from resumes and a human resource or talent management system that uses the extracted data to evaluate and rank qualified candidates.

The resume extraction tool uses advanced algorithms to scan your resume, identify text information, and categorize it using the rules of standard resume formatting. Data such as your name, address, phone number, education, professional experience, years with each job and keywords will be extracted and entered into a human resources database such as Oracle, PeopleSoft or SAP, or a tracking system from candidates like Hire. Desk.

The talent management database is the fundamental tool for the candidate evaluation and qualification process, not your actual resume. Based on criteria identified by the recruiter or hiring manager, each candidate who enters the talent management database is ranked in terms of how closely they match the job parameters. Factors that will go into this ranking include where the candidate lives, their years of experience, and most importantly, the appearance of specific keywords – the more keywords, the better the ranking.

In previous versions of talent extraction and management tools, keyword matching had to be exact, and many candidates were inadvertently excluded due to spelling variations (AS400 vs. AS / 400, for example). Also, the software was quite simplistic in its analysis capabilities: the keyword was present or not, there was no ability to judge the context in which the word was used. This meant that unqualified candidates were able to fool the system by uploading their resume with keywords. Today’s advanced tools, such as Talent Technology’s Resume Mirror and HireDesk, have the ability to analyze and interpret the meaning of entire sentences and phrases, enabling hiring managers to conduct contextual and parametric candidate searches.

Shortly after the job is posted and applications start coming in, the hiring manager will generate a report with a list of applicants who meet a minimum classification – the more applicants there are for a job, the more restrictive the hiring manager can be in the environment the threshold for qualification. The report may contain small excerpts, such as your original resume summary, but your actual resume may not be seen in its entirety unless you make it to the top of the ranking group.

The Resumator, a new software suite released in early 2009, goes hand in hand in this regard. Designed to meet the recruiting needs of small and medium-sized businesses, Resumator’s built-in logic mimics the way resumes are read in real life, and the software has the ability to display the resume in its entirety. But it still uses data analysis and keyword recognition logic to identify qualified candidates.

What Job Applicants Can Do to Maximize Their Success with Resume Detection Software

Before beginning this section, I want to state that I am not a fan of trying to beat the system. If you apply for positions that you are not clearly qualified for, I think you are hurting both your own job search strategy and the people managing the hiring process. In fact, largely because unskilled candidates continue to apply in large numbers, companies of all sizes have been forced to turn to resume screening software.

Now with that said, there are specific steps that qualified candidates need to take to make sure their resume gets scanned properly and makes it to the top of the candidate pool.

How to get past the resume extraction process

  1. Submit your resume in text format. A surprising number of candidates use graphics-based PDF files, which the scanning software considers nothing more than pretty images. Ken Winters, CEO of Staffback Inc., goes one step further. He recommends that you stick to MS Word, because its very universality means that it is less likely to cause reading and parsing problems for resume extraction software.
  2. Don’t use graphics not at all on resumes that are submitted electronically. The extraction tools work on the basis of text recognition, so graphics are white noise that not only doesn’t get scanned, but can mess up the process of analyzing the surrounding text.
  3. Do not forget your address. Some candidates think that by excluding their address they will not be geographically limited, but in fact the opposite is true. One of the first selection parameters hiring managers use is often zip code or zip code, and if it’s not present on your resume, you fall to the bottom of the candidate pool.
  4. Don’t use Word’s header or footer options for key data such as contact information. These are outside the scanned areas and will not be scanned.
  5. Use conventional format for things like your phone number, no spaces between numbers, no fancy characters as separators.
  6. Stick to standard designs. While resume extraction software has vastly improved over the years in terms of the ability to recognize and parse a variety of formatting conventions, if you’re too creative, the software may not parse your resume properly. Unless the response to the advertised job has been low, the recruiter or hiring manager will probably not take the time to correct the errors, and you will be fired as a PITA candidate.
  7. Use reverse chronological format rather than functional: tends to parse with fewer extraction errors.

How to Stand Out in the Candidate Ranking Process

  1. Tailor each resume to the specific job – Certainly a one size fits all in today’s job market. Read the job posting carefully and look for keywords that are used to describe the job and qualifications. These are an indication of the company’s thinking and will most likely be used to rank candidates. In fact, some candidate classification tools will make a direct comparison of the entire job advertisement with the candidate’s resume.
  2. Learn to read the ratings section. Many companies currently in recruiting mode are looking for candidates who can cover multiple skill sets, almost to be unrealistic in their expectations. When faced with a long list of qualifications, know that some of them are must-haves and many of them are good to have. The higher a keyword appears on the ranking list, the stronger its importance in candidate rankings and the more likely it is to be a must-have.
  3. Incorporate keywords directly into the body of your resume., so that a context is provided for the word. Keywords that cannot be easily used in this way can be listed in a separate table. However, keep in mind that some recruiters disapprove of the use of an extensive keyword table and consider it an attempt by unqualified candidates to mislead the system. Keep your keyword list short (10-12 items), relevant to the job, and accurate in terms of being one of the key strengths you have to offer.
  4. Understand the principle of resume fatigue. Keep your resume easy to visually scan when finally seen by a recruiter or hiring manager, and avoid the similar format you get from off-the-shelf and online resume templates. As one recruiter I spoke to noted, “I’ve had virtually identical resumes from multiple applicants for a single job. It’s not a good way to stand out and shows a distinct lack of initiative.
  5. Get your resume early. In fact, the earlier you are in the submission process (provided you are qualified), the more likely you are to become the gold standard by which the qualification threshold is set for all subsequent applicants.

A Final Word On Job Search Strategy: Advice From Industry Experts

While knowledge of resume extraction and candidate management software can give you a head start, motivated job seekers shouldn’t rely solely on electronic resume submission to land their next big job. Hidden job market laws still apply, and candidates should utilize a multi-pronged job search plan that includes direct applications, networking, cold calling, and relationship building.

Ken Winters advises candidates to use resources like LinkedIn to build a network of contacts and referrals. Use your network to solicit referrals when appropriate – it’s a great way to establish credibility and let people know you’re available for new opportunities.

Don Charlton, founder and CEO of The Resumator, describes a great job search strategy as one that uses best practices in relationship building and selling solutions. A good salesperson knows that there is a fine balance between being aggressive and annoying, and creating positive connections. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to find the person who will make the final hiring decision. But be respectful of your time. You are offering a solution. Look, sound, and most of all act like someone looking for solutions.

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