The Bane of my Existence?

Why are computers reading my résumé before a human being reads it?

Going back a few years, after the advent of the Internet, companies would post an opening on a website. The response was so overwhelming HR could not keep up with the volume. For one job posting a company could receive 2,000 resumes.

An enterprising company developed something called an Applicant Tracking System or ATS for short. Originally, there were only three or four ATS. As time has passed more and more companies have begun selling ATS. Today there are at least 100 programs on the market. Since they were very expensive to purchase, websites such as,, and others launched new revenue streams. They provided a new service to other companies handling their online responses to job postings. They range from sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) software to in-house programs. If you are responding to a job posting for a small organization you can be pretty sure they are using some sort of ATS or are having another company do it for them.

How an ATS works

Generally speaking, a company will write a job description. Then the company decides which keywords from the ad will be searched for in the resumes. The software runs on a process of elimination. The more keywords in your résumé, the better your chance of having a person read it. The company also decides how many resumes it wants to review. That is why you want your resume to stay in the running. You do that by having lots of keywords and quantifiable accomplishments.

The commercial software is really like a big database. Some have features such as your location. The company may not want to pay relocation costs and will search for resumes in the zip codes with a radius of the company. It is like the Yellow Pages in this respect. This is why many resume writers do not include your street address.

Do I have to change my resume every time I respond to a job posting?

Very rarely will you have to write a new résumé for every job posting, if it is written right in the first place.

How do I know what the keywords are?

“Keyword” is just a new word for “buzz” words. You need to find a few job postings that are of interest to you. They describe exactly what you want to do. I recommend putting them on your computer. Read through those postings. Highlight the skills they all want and the terms that keep appearing. Those are most likely the keywords in all of the job postings. Remember: They are not going to find a candidate who has everything on their wish list.

This part of a job posting found on Anything that is italicized is probably a keyword or keyword phrase.

Customer Service Representative – Rawlings Sporting Goods St. Louis, MO 

Responsibilities Job Description

Job Title: Customer Service Representative Rawlings

Department: Sales Operations

Reports to: Director, Customer Service

Location: St. Louis Corporate Office (Maryville)

FLSA Status: Non-Exempt

General Overview: Processes orders and answers incoming phone calls from distributors, customers, and sales representatives. Takes phone orders, anticipates product availability, answers questions and troubleshoots issues. Makes outbound calls to customers to resolve problem orders and to generate additional sales.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Answers incoming phone calls and takes orders from customers.
  • Answers questions and troubleshoots customer service issues.
  • Insures orders are shipped based on the request date, and tracks shipments as necessary.
  • Follows up on back orders or delinquent orders.
  • Provides pricing for dealers.
  • Serves as liaison for finding and expediting picking tickets.
  • Checks stock inventory as requested.
  • Prepares proper documentation and shipping instructions.
  • Work with salesmen as necessary

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Bachelors Degree strongly preferred; or comparable work experience
  • Excellent alpha and numeric data entry skills
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office software, e.g. Word, Excel, Power Point, Lotus
  • Minimum 2 years prior customer service experience preferred
  • Excellent organizational skills with strong attention to detail
  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • High level of professionalism and positive people-interface skills


Ability to read and interpret documents such as contracts, ability to write advertising, reports and correspondence. Ability to speak effectively before customers or employees of organizations. Must have proven excellent written presentation and verbal communication skills.


Ability to calculate figures and amounts such as discounts, interest, commissions, proportions, percentages, area, circumference, and volume. Ability to apply concepts of basic math and algebra.


Ability to apply common sense understanding to carry out instructions furnished in written, oral, or diagram form. Ability to deal with problems involving several concrete variables in standardized situations.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit, walk and use hands regularly. The employee is frequently required to reach with hands and arms. The employee is regularly required to stand and walk. The employee will occasionally lift and/or move objects weighing 30 – 40 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, and color vision. Employee will be required to hear telephone.

Here is another one.

Outside Sales Representative

Sterett Crane & Rigging – St. Louis, MO

A Sales Representative is an entry-level position. At minimum, they are responsible for securing and retaining profitable business for the company. The individual typically works under direct supervision and expected to work long hours, and subject to working weekends and holidays. This role is also responsible for running the day-to-day marketing activities of the Company, including outside public relations and advertising initiatives in support of the marketing programs.

Major Responsibilities – Sales

  • Increase profitable sales and rental revenue in the assigned territory through scheduled and cold sales calls, email, direct mailings, and various marketing methods used to promote the Sterett brand.
  • Offer a full inventory of equipment and services to new and current customers including the sale and rental of equipment.
  • Coordinating with company personnel to ensure customer satisfaction through timely and accurate execution of paperwork, quotes, and various correspondences.
  • Daily input of account information into iCraneTrax.
  • Consistent and professional follow up and communication through email, phone, and personal interaction either at customer offices or jobsites.
  • Assist in collecting on past due accounts if necessary.
  • Perform at level 3 (Meets Requirements) or better on all performance evaluation.

Major Responsibilities – Marketing

  • Develop sales material, case studies, presentations, and other customer facing materials for both digital and print. Write and edit copy to ensure effective messaging. Distribute and control corporate branding standards.
  • Provide in-house marketing services to design and develop appropriate advertising content for placement in a variety of client facing channels.
  • Develop internal marketing communications plan (newsletter, sales training, market news, success stories).
  • Work with sales, human resources and the outside public relations agency to manage web site content and digital collateral.

Key Objectives

  • Employee will be honest and open with management at all times.
  • Maintain excellent communication skills both verbal and written in company communication and customer interaction.
  • Maintain thorough customer records, quotes, industry and territory information and be able to report back to management periodically.
  • Exhibit an attitude that is focused on developing, nurturing and maintaining long term relationships.
  • Recognize the team concept within the company and work efficiently through other team members to achieve the common company goals.
  • Maintain vehicle in appearance and operation while maintaining a clean driving record.
  • Protect and safeguard all company property, i.e. computers, phones, air cards, fuel cards, etc.
  • Employee is expected to conduct him/herself in a professional and courteous manner at all times.

Knowledge, Skills, and Experience Essential:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Journalism, Communications, or related field
  • Minimum of 2 years of progressive marketing experience is required
  • Thorough understanding of all marketing functions;
  • Must have strong oral, presentation and written communication skills;
  • Must be able to pass a drug test, background check, and fit for duty test.


  • Experience working in like industry;
  • Prefer candidates with at least 6 months of sales experience, preferably in equipment sales.

Physical Demands The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to identify essential functions of a role. As a result, this job requires the employee to sit and stand for long periods of time, and the ability to lift/move up to 25 lbs. Approximately 60% of time spent in usual office condition and approximately 40% of time spent in external conditions which may include temperature variance, elevated noise levels, dust and fumes.

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the tasks.

Work Environment Majority of time spent in an office environment with a low/quiet noise level. The employee may be required to wear appropriate PPE equipment when exposed to external environment. The employee could occasionally be exposed to extreme temperatures. Frequent travel required.

Job Type: Full-time

Required education:

  • Bachelor‘s not BA or Bachelors

How do I submit my resume?

Follow the instructions in the job posting. It may say to email it to That would most likely mean to send it as a Word file. When doing it this way make sure you have saved it, in Word as 97-03. You may be using a later version but everyone using Word can read it when you save it as a .doc rather than a .docx file.

If it says to go to you will be at their web site. In many cases you will be presented with a black rectangle and told to copy and paste your resume into the box. Do not hit send until you review the document in the box. If it is a mess when you put the Word version in, they are looking for an ASCII/Plain Text version. You can be assured it will be read by an ATS.

Unless a PDF version is requested do not send your resume as a PDF file. The reason is because most ATS cannot parse (read) PDF.

So, now you have it. This is why a computer is reading your résumé before a person reads it.

NOTE: When filling out an online application do NOT insert your Social Security Number. They do not need it until they are ready to have a background check run. If you do not insert anything you cannot proceed with the form. Try this 555-99-1278, giving only the last 4 digits of your social security number. When responding to salary history (which is exclusionary) or salary requirements (which is exclusionary) insert unlikely numbers such $1.

By | 2017-04-20T20:48:07+00:00 April 20th, 2017|