Getting hired at prominent engineering companies is a tough feat. You need the right set of skills and qualifications, together with relevant experience (in most cases) and convince them that you are indeed the right candidate for the job (often in a sea of applicants). Students graduating into the modern day workplace need slick, impressive curriculum vitae in order to catch recruiters’ attentions.
The disturbing part of this is the fact that the recruiter in many companies today is automated. This automated system, otherwise known as the Applicant Tracking System, does the initial culling of applicants, so presents new and unique challenges to those determined to find employment in the industry.
The Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
According to HireRight, 144 people apply for each entry-level position, and 89 people apply for each professional-level position within a medium-sized company. Those kinds of figures cause companies to look to automated software to sift through those applications.
They also report that more than 95% of organizations use ATSs, including almost all Fortune 500 companies. Even Google is establishing their own job classifieds service that will have its own beta applicant tracking system.
Brian Delle Donne, President of Talent Tech Labs - a higher education research firm - recently spoke to Forbes about the Applicant Tracking Systems. He said:
“Applicant Tracking Systems arose as a system of compliance or record keeping for companies. Companies used them to keep track of who was applying to their jobs, as well as to manage scheduling and interviewing and candidate contact management. I say compliance because companies need to demonstrate they are equal opportunity employers, so Applicant Tracking Systems are used to keep tabs on applicants in terms of gender and race and demonstrate that no discrimination is occurring. So Applicant Tracking Systems quickly became the system of record for hiring. Early systems also had rudimentary capabilities around matching keywords in the job description to keywords in the resume.”
The filtering software is used to minimize the time spent combing through thousands of applicants in the present day; the review of applicants has become an automated process. Sadly, some applicants are in danger of being filtered out, if their curriculum vitae do not meet the keyword requirements of the software. Whether it is the system or the CV that is at fault – with this system (as with the old) there will always be occasions when both the company and the individual will miss out; the moment when an ideal applicant ‘falls through the cracks’.
On the other hand, as with many new technologies and inventions, the law of unexpected consequences has raised its ugly head: Delle Donne says that students now go out of their way to pack their CVs with keywords so that the software notices their applications. There is no regard to whether those keywords actually truthfully represent them.
Experts have cautioned graduates to word their CVs with the appropriate keywords relevant to the job they are applying for.
Employers, too, have the responsibility to ensure their filters are not too stringent on applicants. Despite this there is the chance that good applicants are disregarded for their poor ability to write up an appropriate curriculum vitae.
Steve Mackay, the Dean of the Engineering Institute of Technology, has also weighed in on what a graduate’s curriculum vitae should look like for the modern workplace:
“First of all, focus on the job. Most people think they can use a generic resume because they apply for lots of jobs, that is a sure fire path to destruction. Make it simple; use simple english, laid out simply. Grammar and spelling must be one hundred percent accurate. Avoid excessive information; the twenty page CV has long since gone. Make sure there is lots of white space; it is very useful to put an executive summary at the top of the resume. Try to be specific. Your CV must have business strengths and business wins. And focus your search for the job you really want.”
Craig, Ryan. "The Importance Of Applicant Tracking Systems: An Interview With Talent Tech Labs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 22 May 2017.
EngInstTech. "ENN15 Constructing Your next Curriculum Vitae (résumé)." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 22 May 2017.
"Meet the Robots Reading Your Résumé [Infographic] - HireRight Blog." Go to HireRight. Web. 22 May 2017.