Why robot recruiters are rejecting your job application | The Canberra Times


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With job security plummeting and unemployment rising, many workers are jumping online to find their next big employment opportunity. Those lodging their resumes electronically are increasingly discovering that their applications are disappearing into a digital black hole, never to be seen again. There is a credible explanation: robots. Amid the turmoil created by COVID-19 and the resultant weak jobs market, many employers have turned to computerised applicant-tracking systems, or ATSs, to cut through the huge volume of applications landing on their desks. Originally developed to assist employers to scan hardcopy resumes into a database and trace applicants’ progress throughout the recruitment process, ATSs have evolved so that they now scan for items such as keywords, former employers and past years of service. The modern robot will assign scores to applicants, rank them and even send interview invitations to candidates via SMS or email. Experts will tell you the larger the employer, the greater the chance robots will be called in to work behind the scenes. In most situations, they probably pass on only a quarter of resumes to the human stage of the recruitment process. Getting past the robots is simply a matter of outsmarting them. If you’ve spent hours finessing your infographic-enriched resume, complete with tables and charts, a matching colour scheme and an elaborate style of font, you may be alarmed to hear that one of the most effective ways of getting past an ATS is to keep things simple. MORE GARY MARTIN: In fact, the more uncomplicated the better. Some ATS robots, particularly older models, often struggle to scan resumes with multiple columns, fancy fonts and diagrams. Those putting a resume together should ensure they use the keywords featured in the job description or advertisement. Your robot recruiter is likely to discard applications that fail to use the lingo of the employer. Remove skills or titles that are superfluous to the role being pursued – they can confuse even savvy robots. And keep headings simple, rather flashy (think summary of experience, qualifications, achievements) to help the robot make more meaningful connections. If an employer specifies a set period of experience (say three to five years), including details beyond what is desired may cause a robot to malfunction and discard an application. Robots are sometimes programmed to rate applicants with less experience more highly and, in doing so, favour younger applicants and discriminate against older ones. The ultimate goal is to thwart your robot recruiter’s screening efforts and ensure your application is read by a human being. If you sense your resume is being rejected time and again by a malfunctioning bucket of bolts, take the time to troubleshoot, tweak and tailor your resume to ensure you get through to the humans – and a step closer to your next job interview.

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