What Happens to Your Resume After You Submit it Online?

JobScanQuintFourth in an occasional series featuring a collaboration between Quint Careers and Jobscan, a service we support because of the wide knowledge gap among job-seekers regarding preparing resumes for employers’ Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). The series aims to tell you exactly what you need to know – with the help of Jobscan – about resume content and formatting – to increase the chances your resume will be selected by the ATS software and then considered by human beings.

A guest post by Millie Reinhardsen of Jobscan

Ever wonder what happens to your resume after you submit it online?

It would be nice to say it is sent directly into a hiring manager’s hands for review and consideration.

Not quite. After you click Submit, your resume is whisked away into the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS), a recruitment Robot-iconsoftware used by 90% of businesses to sort through the hundreds of submitted resumes received every day.

At the heart of this software is a resume parser, the approach used to identify and extract relevant information and translate its categorization accurately into a database (Contact Info, Education, Skills, Work Experience).

If a resume parser isn’t identifying and extracting enough relevant information from a resume, it will deem that resume and its applicant not qualified enough for the job.

In general, there are three things resume parsers extract in a resume:

  1. Keywords
  2. Grammar
  3. Statistics


In a job description, certain words and phrases that are, well, key. These keywords are a collection of hard and soft skills required for the job. Hard skills are quantifiable achievements, such as certificates, degrees, titles, and years of experience. Soft skills are interpersonal skills, such as adaptability, communication, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence (social awareness and self-management).

For example:

A job description for a Research Assistant requires the applicant to have a Bachelor’s degree Social or Health Science, 1 year in a leadership role, ability to establish quick rapport with patients, strong organizational skills and consistent attention to detail.

The bolded words are the key words and phrases an applicant for this particular job should include in their resume to boost relevancy. Basically, the more keywords (relevant information) a resume parser is able to extract and store in their database, the more qualified that resume is measured.

A Quick Tip: Job-seekers who aren’t  sure which words and phrases are important can turn to online resume tools such as Jobscan to compare their resume to a particular job description to determine which key words, skills and phrases are important. Editor’s note: See also our article Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume.

Grammar and Word Forms/Usage

It’s not what a resume says, but how it says it.

Keywords are only the beginning. Once these keywords are identified and extracted from its resume, the resume parser is then able to derive the meaning and context of these words and phrases.

Consider the difference between Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft PPT. Some parsers are so intelligent, they are able to recognize both formats of wording and place it accurately under the right category (in this case, Skills).

To be safe, it is best for job-seekers to simply echo the exact wording of keywords and key phrases as in the job description.

Numbers and Statistics

This category includes capturing a wide variety of numerical structures in resumes, such as addresses, phone numbers, salary and timelines (years of experience and lengths of employment), and accurately categorizing them. A person’s phone number will be properly placed under Contact Information, not (XXX)-XXX-XXX years of experience with Microsoft Office under Skills.

To ensure these numbers are placed in their right category, using standard formats will help parsers easily identify the format.

For example:

The applicant tracking system, SmartRecruiters (used in companies like General Mills and OfficeMax) will not recognize numerical information if formatted with periods (XX.XX.XXXX) instead as 01-01-2015.

Resume parsers are great tools for recruiters and their businesses: saving vast amounts of time and money. But they have changed the frontier for online recruiting and unfortunately, many job-seekers are unaware of this recruiting technology. To succeed, applicants need to change how they craft their resumes and apply for jobs. Resumes are no longer about wowing a recruiter but “being relevant to a parsing system” (RecruiterBox).

 Final Thoughts

Taking the time to understand what a resume parser is and how to beat them (online resume tools such as Jobscan) are guaranteed to save applicants vast amounts of time and money. See our collection of articles and blog posts in our Applicant Tracking System and Resume Keywords Content.

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