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The Best Candidate Wins

The Best Candidate Wins

A job interview is one of the most intimidating ways of making a first impression. Learning how to successfully respond to job interview questions requires clarity about the job and the value you bring to the position.

It takes so much hard work to get an interview, and the reality is that when you sit in front of the interviewer, you often do not come across as well as you could because you lack a response strategy and are not able to link your skills to actual examples that show you are the best fit for the position. I’ll talk more about the response process in a later article.

But before you get to sit in front of an interviewer, there are also substantial barriers to overcome. And one of these barriers is the automated applicant tracking system.

The problem with applicant tracking systems

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs. An applicant tracking system filters applications automatically based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience and schools attended. Wikipedia

Many applicants don’t get noticed or are rejected because the key words in their résumé do not match the key words that the Application Tracking System is searching for. Most applicant tracking systems are blunt instruments. According to Meridith Levinson from, “Error-prone applicant tracking systems kill 75 percent of job seekers’ chances of landing an interview as soon as they submit their resumes, despite how qualified they may be.”

Word clouds and your résumé

Despite the problem with applicant tracking systems, you can at least improve your odds of not being filtered out by better matching key words on your résumé to the job description.

A service such as can help  help you decide which key words to add or emphasize in your résumé. Presuming that these key words do reflect your skills set, it is a simple matter to add these words strategically. Don’t pack too many words in, as the ATS will recognise word stuffing.

1- Copy and paste the text of the job description into the window at;
2- Notice the key words by size;
3- Open a new browser tab at and copy and paste the text of your résumé into the window at;
4- Compare the two word clouds by identifying the disparate key words by size
5- Adjust your résumé to close the gaps in key words
6- Repeat


The following word cloud shows the key words in a position offered by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, USA.

The Research Director is responsible for overseeing the clinical and translational research operations of the Program in Global Oncology within the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division (VIDD) at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC).

Word cloud 1

The following word cloud contains the key words from the applicant’s résumé who happens to be a friend of mine

Word cloud 2

Although the applicant is highly qualified and a world expert in clinical microbiology, there are major differences in the key words of the job description and the key words of the applicant’s résumé. Take a moment to identify the missing key words between the word cloud of the job description and the word cloud of the applicant’s résumé.

The suggested process is to identify the disparate key words by size and adjust your résumé to close the gaps in key words. This is done by resubmitting your résumé to until the key word alignment is better.

Learn more about the tools and skills you will learn on our  The Best Candidate Wins program that will not only prepare you for your interview, but also help you for the rest of your career.


Dene Rossouw Dene Rossouw

Learning Coach at team Possibil.

INFLUENCING - We help you build your influence and have the necessary conversations of leadership by introducing you to proven practices and tools that get you real results.

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