Applying Online: Understanding ATS and How to Get Your Resume Seen By an Employer

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With most big oil & gas companies expecting applications to made in an online environment, you’d think that  job hunting should be easier, and more convenient, than ever before.

Except it isn’t, right?

While it is definitely getting easier for employers seeking resumes and applications, it is not necessarily so for those looking for a job.

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The simple fact of the matter is this: When it comes to completing online applications for many of the Oilfields top employers, as many as 75% of resumes will never reach human eyes.

Why are resumes vanishing in cyberspace?

Most employers nowadays are using software called “Applicant Tracking Systems” (or ATS for short) that are designed to sort and rank resumes and applications that are submitted online. This software is used to weed out unqualified applications so that employers can focus on resumes that are better suited to the position.

This is all according to a robot that sorts resumes into categories and scans for keywords to see if an application is relevant to the employer. The caveat here being that, while the program tosses out the least-qualified applicants, it does not identify the applications that best fit the job.

So while your experience and skills may be perfectly suitable to the job you are applying for, your resume may be disqualified by an ATS simply because the program was unable to properly identify the keywords the employer is looking for.

How can I make my resume ATS friendly?

We know, spending time on the computer is the last thing you want to be doing.

However, the reality is our industry will increasingly require you to be competent in at least a base level of technology.

When it comes to these peksy ATS systems, here are 4 simple things you can do today to beat the ATS filters & improve your chances of getting hired!

1. Make sure your resume has a clean and reader-friendly design.

Fancy and eye-catching resumes designs are great if you are handing over a resume personally. When it comes to online applications, and ATS, you want to make sure your resume is clean and concise.

Avoid the use of images and charts. These complicate the document and make it difficult for the ATS to scan for important information.

Use bullet points to list skills and responsibilities and be sure to organize your resume in to sections with headers.

For example:

  • Objective
  • Work Experience
  • Skills
  • Hobbies/Interests

2. Do not place any pertinent information in the header or footer of the resume.

When an ATS scans a resume, it usually ignores information in the header (top) and footer (bottom) of the resume. The header is typically where you would place your name and contact information and the footer is usually where references are included.

Neither of these sections should include information relevant to the job position.

3. Save your resume in a .doc or .docx format.

While .pdf seems to be the popular format for documents sent over the internet, it is recommended that resumes and applications be sent in a Microsoft Word format such as .doc or .docx.

If the online application lists .pdf as a suitable file format, you can certainly send along a resume in that format. However, to be safe, .doc and .docx are always easily readable by an ATS.

4. Be sure to include relevant keywords.

Apart from having a clean design that an ATS can easily scan, using keywords is crucial for having that resume pass the ATS and make it to the employer.

Keywords should refer to both soft and hard skills pertinent to the job. Hard skills are those that can be learned and are hands-on while soft skills are more communication and people skills.

Here are some examples of hard and soft skills that should be included on your resume:

  • Hard skills: operations, production, drilling, roustabout, operator, oil, gas
  • Soft skills: leadership, interpersonal, management, teamwork, communication

Each keyword should be included on your resume at least 2-3 times so that the ATS robot can make multiple matches to the employers criteria. You can include each keyword, or skill, under your work experience, under the skills section and in the short objective paragraph at the beginning of the resume (if you choose to include one).

It is important to include each skill and keyword under your work experience along with the length of time worked for each job – the ATS will assign that keyword to how long you worked at the job to determine experience with that skill.

Now, update that resume and get hired!

Keep reading: 5 things you need to do when applying for Oilfield Jobs Online

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