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How to keep your resume out of the application black hole

More often than not, the reason for your resume rebuff is a little robot called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and its parser feature. When you’re looking for a job, its job is to locate and separate the appropriate info on your resume required to assess your application.

Every resume received by a staffing agency goes through an ATS parser and is separated from the email from which it was sent. This means only the attached document is accessible to the recruiter.

These are the mistakes you want to avoid to ensure your resume reaches a recruiter’s inbox:

1. Misspelling your email address
Always double check that you didn’t accidentally hit the wrong key stroke or forgot to hit one at all. When recruiters receive an average of 250 resumes per corporate job posting, they don’t have time to play guessing games with gmail.

INCORRECT: Mzxwell.Church@gmail.com or Mxwell.Church@gmail.com
CORRECT: Maxwell.Church@gmail.com  

2. Missing digits in your phone number 
Attention to detail is critical to your application. Don’t forget to check that you have all the digits in your phone number listed.

INCORRECT: 555-34-0985
CORRECT: 555-342-0985

3. Spaces in your email or phone number
Regardless of how much more pleasing it may seem to the eye, the ATS parser doesn’t believe in aesthetics. “Don’t put spaces in your email or phone number…no matter how much nicer you think it looks,” Wendy warns. “The parser won’t be able to collect all the digits or full email address because it doesn’t read spaces.

INCORRECT: M a x w e  l l .  C h u r c h @ g m a i l .c o m or 5 5 5 – 3 4 2- 0 9 8 5 
CORRECT: Maxwell.Church@gmail.com or 555-342-0985

4. Wrong domains
Canadian vs. American domains make a difference depending on what country you’re working in. If you’re living and working in Canada, ensure to use the correct domain. 

INCORRECT: Maxwell.Church@telus.com
CORRECT: Maxwell.Church@telus.ca 

5. Not including an email address
Emails are a mandatory field in an ATS, so your resume won’t be accepted without including your email in the necessary field when applying. 

6. Not listing your postal code
Recruiters use a radial search by postal code tool to find qualified candidates closest to the job site first — before going through a second round of searches. If your postal code isn’t listed, you won’t be found during this initial (and most critical) search if a recruiter found enough qualified candidates.

INCORRECT: 55 Main Street, Toronto 
CORRECT: 55 Main Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M6J-3P3

7. No contact details in the body of your resume 
Remember, the email address you send your application from and the attachments included are separated by the ATS parser as your resume makes its way into the database. Wendy notes, “Ensure your full name, address, phone number and email are listed in the body of your resume.”  

8. Including headers or footers
Leave the fancy headers and footers off your resume — the robots can’t read them! The ATS parser can’t see the details and key information within the headers or footers. As mentioned above, always ensure that you have your contact details listed within the body of your resume. 

9. Blocking out digits of your phone number
Privacy is important, but when your intention is to be contacted, you need to disclose your full phone number.

INCORRECT: 555-342-xxxx
CORRECT: 555-342-0985  

10. Inconsistent spacing
When you use improper spacing on your resume, an ATS will read the content as though it’s all blended together.

INCORRECT: Maxwell.Church@gmail.com555-342-0985
CORRECT: Maxwell.Church@gmail.com, 555-342-0985 

Remember, robots are tricky because they’re searching for top talent with the skills and experience suited for a specific role. Don’t miss out because you didn’t properly submit!

Are you working with a staffing agency to find your next great opportunity?


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