Meet the Digital Gatekeeper

Not so very long ago, you would follow your family trade of butcher, baker or candlestick maker, swept merrily along into the traditional vocation of the house, with never a CV in sight.

While this may be attributed to dodgy pre-industrial literacy rates: the reality was that the village was small, the people were known and your career path was more likely determined by your blood than your sweat and tears.

If it turned out there were enough farriers or blacksmiths in your village, the master might write you a letter of recommendation to seek employment a few thatches down:

“Dear Sirs,

I commend young <you> as a person of good noble character, and herewith endorse their workmanship and general medieval good-person-ness… etc and so forth…Yours, in feudal solidarity…”

These early letters of introduction became the bedrock of today’s minefields and manifestos of CVs.

From early parchment to digital procurement, this simple act of proffering a taster of someone’s capability in lieu or (or to gain) an actual introduction has endured for centuries.

However, now that the village is global, pathways infinite and networks exponential: You are far more likely to choose your career than be born into it, and therefore infinitely more likely to need that all important introduction.

But despite being written by humans for humans, the contemporary CV actually spends far more time bouncing around the digital arena. Those early humble letters of recommendation evolved into a plethora of detailed dossiers, and we’ve been cannon balling them through AI and Machine Learning platforms ever since, cranking them through fancy algorithms, with carefully written content parsed (plucked) out to populate databases, with fates made or missed through the hit rate determined by keyword-searched SQL systems.

The polite intro letter is no longer enough, especially in the world of SAP, IT and the broader ERP business universe, where the nuances of lingo and technology can literally determine your CVs performance.

The critical implication is:

You are no longer just writing to the farrier or blacksmith down the way… you are now also writing for the digital knight at the drawbridge.

Meet the Digital Gatekeeper: The Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s).

ATSs are essentially CRM systems, but designed for employers to manage candidates, rather than clients. To get an idea of what your CV is going through: type in “applicant tracking system demo” to YouTube and watch some of the videos from a few different ATS vendors.

This is important because this is what your target employer did, then they choose one, then they implemented it…and now they are literally processing your application this way.

Understanding the recruitment process from the recruiter’s side of the fence is essential in understanding how to adapt to it. It’s no longer a human in HR receiving your CV via a nicely worded email: it’s far more likely their digital gatekeeper (ATS) made decisions about you based on your CV, including how close it gets to the human you want to work with.

So, how do we deal with this?

The most important part is to acknowledge this fundamental change in CV purpose and audience.

Having the right mindset on how your CV is going to be processed, makes it much easier to frame what content you need and how to get it in there.

Your modern business technology CV now has this dual purpose:

  1. Get through that digital gatekeeper – through keywords
  2. Compel the human – with content

Interestingly, the Digital Gatekeeper isn’t necessarily your enemy: once your CV is polished up, the ATS will be filtering out your competition for the role, improving your chances of landing it. When you have the right combination of terms, your CV will rank better than someone who doesn’t… even if they have more of that skill in real like.

Understanding how Applicant Tracking Systems work and the terms to use are essential to making friends with the Digital Gatekeeper.

You won’t reach the farrier or blacksmith without them.


Insights from this article:

  • Traditional or generic format CV’s don’t always cut it in the niche world of IT/SAP/ERP
  • Employers are absolutely using ATS software to screen you
  • Your SAP CV needs to both satisfy the digital gatekeeper AND the target hiring manager
  • Needs to be written in a way that addresses both, without one being at the expense of the other