Health & Sciences: What is ATS Screening

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March 3, 2021 – Upcoming Events, Opportunities & Resources


Most of you have likely heard the phrase, “ATS screening,” but what does it mean exactly?  It means an artificial intelligence system is reading your resume to determine if you will move forward in the hiring process based on the words in your resume matching the words the recruiter identifies and/or is found in the job description.  According to research from Jobscan, 98% of Fortune 500 companies are using ATS screeners. Be sure to re-read your resume and compare it to the job description. Are there qualifications or characteristics the employer mentions that you can apply to your own experiences in an authentic way to create a better match?  Below are concrete tips to keep in mind as you set out to beat the ATS robot.

  • Look for the hard skills that come up more than once in a posting and are mentioned near the top of the requirements and job duties. Hard skills include types of software, methodologies, spoken languages, and other abilities that are easier to quantify. Focus on position titles, degrees, and certifications.  Soft skills are less likely to be used, but if you see a word or two used multiple times in a job description and/or on a company website, it never hurts to incorporate them into a bullet statement.
  • Look carefully at the job description.  Does it mention MS Office or Microsoft Word?  Does it state spreadsheet or Excel?  RN or registered nurse?  Use the exact wording of the qualifying criteria as much as possible.   
  • Avoid the following formatting features: tables, text boxes, images, graphics, columns, headers and footers, less common fonts, hyperlinks, abbreviations and acronyms, and extra spaces.  Do use month and year.
  • Do not attempt to “game” the system by over using keywords where they do not belong or creating a keyword section, because eventually, a recruiter will review the top resumes before sending them along to a hiring manager.
  • Follow their directions (if provided) in terms of submitting a PDF or Docx.  If they do not give a preference, the presenters in this video recommend a PDF but keep in mind that not all PDFs are created equal.  They walk through a detailed process to help you test your PDF resume to ensure it is ATS-friendly.

If are still having trouble identifying keywords, use our own AI-based resume tool, Resume Worded.  Upload your resume and the job posting you are applying, and Resume Worded will score your resume to that job and provide tips to improve your score.

Several of these tips in this letter were adapted from the article below and this article.               

All the best,
Jodi Schneiderman
Assistant Director, Employer Relations and Industry Advising | Health, Science, and Technology

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Article of the Week

Beat the Robots: How to Get Your Resume Past the System & Into Human Hands

hands of person on laptop

Source: The Muse

Does job searching sometimes feel like you’re flinging resumes and cover letters into a black hole? You may be wondering if your applications are being read at all. Luckily, getting past the ATS is a lot easier than you might think. Follow these dos and don’ts (new window) to create an ATS-friendly resume that’ll sail right through—and impress the hiring manager, too.

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