Applicant Tracking System. What it is and How to Make it Love Your Resume

highly-targeted-automotive-marketingAn applicant tracking system is essentially an electronic resume-screening program that businesses use to filter out unsuitable resumes, thereby reducing the number of resumes the humans must eventually read.  ATS’s are used by all large corporations (like Tim Horton’s and Walmart), most big companies (like Stuart Olsen), all Government agencies, all School Boards, City Departments, some Towns and Municipalities, City Police, RCMP, Banks, and on and on.  Even smaller companies with large employee turnaround, like many small construction companies, use an ATS, and you might be surprised by which companies in your community use them.

Applicant Tracking Systems save companies tens of thousands of dollars a year in recruitment/acquisition costs and even smaller companies recognize the long-term value of these systems. ATSs do far more than just weed out undesirables — they manage the entire recruitment process from resume-screening to managing the paperwork on a new hire. So, it is not surprising to learn that perhaps your neighborhood mechanic shop uses an applicant tracking system.

Even when you walk into a store, restaurant, or whatever type of business it may be, and physically hand your resume to someone, often times they take your resume to the HR department or manager’s office where it is then fed into a scanner that uploads it to that business’s ATS.  So while you may have been told, “Thank you, I’ll make sure the manager gets it…”,  there’s every chance what they meant by “manager” was actually “ATS”.

Some companies, particularly those who do get a lot of walk-ins, use an ATS to ensure their hiring practices are fair. While applicant tracking systems are highly customized to suit the specific requirements of each business, they also are neutral.  An ATS doesn’t know you may be the receptionist’s cousin or the foreman’s nephew so if you do get selected for an interview, no one could claim it was because you got preferential consideration and cause all kinds of nightmares for the business.

So how do you get an ATS to love your resume?

The best way is to ensure you are qualified for the position you are applying for.  No sense applying for a job you have no, or few, qualifications for.  People argue with me all the time saying there is nothing wrong with dropping off a generic resume because you never know when you might be in the right place at the right time. I don’t argue back because that’s true.  There are no hard and fast rules about how to apply for a job and there are as many ways to do it as there are jobs to be had.  But if you are committed to a serious job search with the intent of getting a job fast, do yourself a favour and find some job postings that can help you customize and target your resume.

Applicant Tracking Systems score your resume based on how well the information in it matches the job requirements. Those free government-funded employment centres call that “skills matching”, but there is much more to an ATS-friendly resume than simply listing a bunch of bulleted lines mirroring the skills and qualifications described in the job posting.

While ATSs scan your resume for the keywords and keyphrases used in the job posting, they also recognize when those keywords and phrases have merely been regurgitated into a resume.  A resume that matches too closely (that is, a 95 percent or higher match) may actually be flagged by the ATS and ultimately disqualified. You’ll have to put some work into incorporating the job posting information into your resume organically, using as many of the keywords and phrases as you truthfully can but being sure not to overuse them.

At the top of this post I mentioned that an ATS is used to filter out unsuitable resumes. But what if you are well-suited to the job you’ve applied for and still didn’t get a call for an interview?  In that case, it may be you had enough keywords and phrases in your resume to get past the ATS, but not enough, or not the right information to impress a human. Ultimately, it is a human being who decides who to call for an interview, so while you are tasked with making sure your resume is ATS-friendly, you must also ensure it will appeal to a human being. If you have the skills, qualifications, and (in most cases) experience, but you aren’t getting interviews, I urge you to try to realize that resume-writing these days is almost an art. A lot of people think they can do it themselves but, unless they have done a lot of research and a lot of practicing, they really don’t know what makes a great resume that will get past an ATS, and, impress a human reader.

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop your resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting a professional to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I want your feedback and comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

Thanks for your time today!


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Job Seekers Get Teck Interviews

Job seekers are going to Teck interviews thanks to their Resume Pro resumes!

If you aren’t getting interviews, perhaps it’s time to take a realistic look at your resume. You may remember my recent post, New Thinking Leads to New Mining Jobs, in which I introduced,  Lisa Mirtsopoulos, a fantastic resource for those pursuing mining jobs. This morning while surfing her blog I came across a Q & A that, again, illustrates that poorly-written resumes are preventing job seekers from getting interviews. It goes like this:

Q: “I’m just wondering why my resume is not being selected for any greenie positions.”

A:  “She kindly sent me her resume and cover letter to get a second opinion. I gave Amy some suggestions for improvement and recommended to get her resume professionally written, that will highlight her skills in a better way.

“So I asked Adrianne from Resumes WA, an expert in writing mining ready resumes, why are resumes sometimes ignored. She came back with a blog  —           5 Reasons Your Resume is Being Ignored.”

“I have read a lot of resumes over my time and its the biggest let down for most people. Spelling mistakes, no clear headings, contains more objective remarks (that can’t be proven) rather than facts, no achievements, the layout is messy etc. I plead with you all, take the time and spend a little money to get your resume professionally done. Do your research on resume writing companies and ask to sight some examples first. Ask for their experience in writing mining resumes.”

To read the above Q & A (and many more) on Lisa’s blog, click the link and scroll down to the blue section:  Mining job applications and interviews.  There isn’t much more I can add. As an expert resume writer, I agree with and support everything Lisa and Adrianne have shared.  If you aren’t getting interviews, it is your resume that is the problem, hands down, no question.

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop your resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting a professional to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I want your feedback and comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

Thanks for your time today!

Read more about how good Resume Pro is, then call 403.563.0408 or email

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What Are These “Accomplishments” We’re Supposed to Put on Our Resumes?

confused_internet_pic-300x210If you are job hunting or thinking of changing your career, you have probably been doing some online research to help you write a good resume.  Goodness knows, there is plenty of it out there!  Some of it is excellent, some of it is garbage, but what you are probably seeing over and over is that you must talk about your accomplishments on your resume.

When I first heard about this concept years ago, I will admit, I was confused.  What accomplishments?, I would bemoan in frustration.  I mean, I went to work and did the same thing day in and day out, nothing much changed in my daily duties, I didn’t do anything monumental, not even occasionally, so what the hell accomplishments was I supposed to come up with?

I searched online for examples of these revered accomplishments and saw things like:

  • Promoted an average 30 titles per year for a niche publishing company.
  • Increased employee training participation by 50% by adapting existing curriculum into online education modules.
  • Led project coordinating office moves for 55 employees.
  • Reduced time spent on inventory by 20% by reorganizing physical storage of supplies.
  • Planned lodging and travel logistics for 20 ships per year, with 10 crew members each.

Notice each of these accomplishment statements contains a number.  Apparently, numbers are big to whomever is reading your resume.  In an accounts-receivable position I held for three years I probably increased revenues for the company I worked for, particularly in my first year there, but by what percentage I have no idea.  It is not common for employers to commend non-sales employees for increasing revenues — they would have to give them a raise along with the praise.

The reality is, most of us common folk don’t know how, or how much, we contributed to a company’s bottom line, or increased its productivity, or reduced its time spent on a project, so how do we talk about our accomplishments?  I’ll tell you how.


Go back in your mind to your previous jobs and think about what you did in each role.  Be sure to have a notebook handy to jot down your memories.  Really devote some time to this and use this little system to get the memories flowing.  Ask yourself:

  1. What did I do on a daily basis?  Write it down as descriptively and with as much detail as you can come up with.
  2. Why did I do it?  Do not answer this question with ‘for the paycheque’.  Think of your job description and your role in the company — why did the company need someone to do that job? Why did your role exist?
  3. What were the outcomes as a result of what I did?  For example, I was in Billings. The outcomes of what I did, day in and day out, was money.  I sent out the Billings that generated the revenues for the company. Nothing is as important to a company as its revenues, so this is a pretty significant outcome.
  4. Now, think about and remember how you did what you did. In my billings position I used specialized company software to enter data from field tickets, that first, I scrutinized for thoroughness and accuracy. I worked closely with field personnel to clarify unclear data, and I referred to service contracts to verify compliance because field personnel didn’t necessarily know what they could and should bill. This is how you need to think and remember — in detail!  Do not overlook little things you may think insignificant. Nothing you did was insignificant.
  5. What computer programs and/or software did you use?  What equipment? What tools? What resources?  I couldn’t have produced the company’s Billings without using the specialized software I mentioned.  Nor could I have done a thorough job without communicating with the guys in the field, and if I didn’t refer to the contract, I might have missed something that should have been billed, and the company would then have lost out on revenues.

These are little things we sometimes overlook when we think about how we did our jobs in previous roles.  But if you think of all the things you did, no matter how seemingly insignificant or automatic, and write them down in detail, you will come up with some very impressive accomplishments!

It will be well worth the time investment to ask yourself these questions and think deeply about the answers.  They won’t all come to you at once.  It’s a process, and you’ll be surprised how things will come back to you.  You’ll be really surprised when the floodgates open and you can’t scribble fast enough to keep up with your memories!

To give you a quick example of how to describe an accomplishment, I’ll use this terrible little list of job duties:


  • prepared invoices using field tickets
  • ensured correct information on field tickets with field personnel
  • ensured invoices complied with services contract



  • employed highly efficient time-management skills to generate 3 million monthly in highly-detailed billings under rigid deadlines in fast-paced accounting department
  • meticulously followed tight guidelines to verify field ticket accuracy and conformity to services contracts resulting in recovering an average  $5000 monthly


By the way, “Duties” should never appear as a heading on your resume.  I used it only to illustrate the difference between duties and accomplishments.  And, I really dislike that word ‘ensured’. It is meaningless.

I hope the above example shows you how to transform duties into accomplishments. Use numbers whenever you can, and if you really think about it, you probably can come up with some.

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop your resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting a professional to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I want your feedback and comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

Thanks for your time today!







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Thank You Resume Pro!


After only six weeks in business, Resume Pro is busier than was expected this early into it! The comments and testimonials from happy clients have been overwhelming and encouraging, and I want to thank all of them for their kind words!

Go ahead and take a look!



“I never knew how wrong my resume was until I had an appt. with Resume Pro. She had me in awe at how much better I could make it and why I’ve most likely not been called. Everyone thinks their resumes are good and done right, but they are old formats with old ideals. She’s good!”
– Lana, Crowsnest Pass, AB

Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
– Michelle, Sparwood, BC

“Resume pro was a great idea; really made a difference in making a professional resume! Terri was really kind and nice to work with! I recommend this for sure.”
– Tyler, Crowsnest Pass, AB

“If you need an excellent resume and cover letter service, look no further. Terri will help you “jump through the hoops ” and get your resume and cover letter noticed. She’s very professional and knows what employers are looking for. Highly recommended.”
– Scott, Crowsnest Pass, AB

“Resume Pro was very prompt and professional. I was very impressed with the final outcome of my C.V. I would recommend this company to anyone looking for this type of service.”
– Bonnie, Calgary, AB

“Terrie : Thank you very much for a very dedicated job. I’ll certainly pass your name on to others.”
– Lyle, Cranbrook, BC

“Everything makes sense on it and am very happy with how it turned out!!”
– Brody, Merritt, BC

“I truly believe the quality of my resume was why I had so many calls for interviews. I was able to have ResumePro tweek multiple resumes to fit where I was applying and keep it relevant. I will use a ResumePro on my next job search for sure! Great work!”
– Robin, Calgary, AB

Thank you clients!  I have thoroughly enjoyed developing your new resumes and cover letters!  Good luck to all in your job searches!

Terri, Expert Resume-Writer  |  Resume Pro  |  403.563.0408


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