What is Resume Parsing?

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ZipJob Team

3 min read

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The way companies hire employees has changed drastically in the last few decades. Hiring managers and recruiters no longer sift through resumes manually, they use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). One of the main functions of applicant tracking systems is to parse resumes. We’ll show you how an ATS parses resumes and how to get yours past one.

We’ll also show you how you can parse your own resume to see how it performs during the applicant screening process.

How ATS Parses a Resume

The ability to parse a resume has really streamlined the hiring process for many companies. It's great in that respect but there is also a major disadvantage for both the employer and job seeker.

Close to 75% of resumes are rejected after being parsed and many employers miss out on qualified candidates who don't have knowledge of these ATS systems.

What is Resume Parsing Software

The ATS software is designed to look for keywords and other information in your resume that relate to the position.

Here are some things an ATS is programmed to look for in your resume during the hiring process:

  • Overall experience

  • Relevant skills

  • Years of work experience

  • Education

  • Previous position

Once the resume parsing technology gathers this information, it decides whether to send it forward to a hiring manager or reject it. It looks to see that the basic qualifications and keywords on your resume match the job post you're applying for.

Here is how a list of candidates looks to a recruiter through an ATS resume extraction:

Applicant Tracking System

Although you may be the most qualified candidate, if your resume is not formatted or optimized for these parsing tools, it will be rejected.

How to Get Past a Resume Parser

There are a couple of steps you can take to get your resume past these applicant tracking systems (ATS).

  1. Standard Formatting

    Avoid fancy designs, colors and charts as the ATS may have difficulty parsing it. Stick to a clean and standard resume format. We wrote a good post on choosing a resume format that's right for you.

  2. Keyword Optimization

    Your resume needs to include words the ATS parsing system is searching for. How do job seekers know what an ATS is searching for?

    A good place to start would be the job description itself. If a job description requests knowledge of journal entries and bank reconciliations, you want to ensure those words are listed on your resume as an ATS may be looking for them.

  3. Standard Headers

    When labeling each section of your resume, ensure you use a standard heading so the ATS knows which section of the resume it’s reading. For example, your experience should be labeled as “work experience” or “professional experience” and not anything else.

  4. Spell Check

    Not only may an ATS reject your resume for spelling errors, hiring managers are also quick to reject it. Microsoft Word is not enough to correct all your grammar and spelling errors. Give it over to a friend or professional to proofread.

  5. Send a Word Doc

    You should always send your resume in a Microsoft Word format. It’s the preferred format for the majority of hiring managers and it’s also easily parsed with an ATS. Although many ATS resume parsers now support PDF files, you don’t want to risk sending your resume to one that doesn’t.

    It's really difficult to find out which ATS resume parsing tools an employer uses so just stick to Word and you'll be okay!

ZipJob offers a free resume review which includes actual results from an ATS.

You can get yours here:

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Join more than 1 million people who have already received our complimentary resume review.

In 48 hours, you will know how your resume compares. We’ll show you what’s working--and what you should fix.

Good luck with your job search!

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Written by

ZipJob Team

The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.

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