This Jobscan review in a nutshell: Jobscan does lead to more callbacks (about 5% increase in my case), but is not a silver bullet. The price for the premium plan is also kind of high, which especially sucks for someone with no income. But it’s definitely worth a shot, even if you just stick with the free version. Sign up for a free account for 5 scans/month (then try their 1 month free trial of their premium plan).
Disclaimer: I get a commission if you purchase anything through one of these links, but I would still recommend Jobscan even if I didn’t. I’ve used it myself to find my first job. If you thought this article was helpful and want to support me, feel free to use one of my links to sign up. I would really appreciate it.
The Job Seeker’s Dilemma
When I started my first job search, I did what most job seekers do. I eagerly sent out my resume to multiple companies and job postings with minimal effort put into tailoring it for each position. I thought my resume just summarizes my work history. Why would I need to change that for each job posting? My work history isn’t changing anytime soon after all. Besides, anyone reading my resume should easily see what a great candidate I am.
As I soon found out, all this work I did yielded no results. I sent out about 30 applications and got 0 responses. A whopping 0% response rate. What was going on?
Well it turns out, most employers use something called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Basically, an ATS is a piece of software that ranks and screens out resumes based on keyword matches with the job posting.
If your resume doesn’t have the same keywords that the ATS picks up from the job post, your resume will get filtered out. Your resume just gets tossed out before anyone ever sees it.
In fact, about 75% of all resumes are never read by a human according to a study by job search services firm Preptel. Sadly, this is the new norm. Over 98% of fortune 500 companies use some form of ATS software, the most notorious being Taleo. Smaller companies are probably looking to do the same.
It’s not like companies have a choice either. No one has time to read through every single resume from the pile of hundreds or thousands that get sent in for each job. According to Jobscan’s marketing manager, Jon Shields:
The average job posting gets 150 applications and in certain cities and certain roles, one posting can receive thousands of applications. In many cases, it really isn’t possible for hiring departments to read through every application.Jon Shields, Jobscan Marketing Manager
So the ATS is here to stay. Getting their resumes past the ATS and into the hiring manager’s hands is something almost all job seekers will have to deal with to land their next jobs. Even if your resume is amazing, what does it matter if no one will ever look at it?
Jobscan’s mission is to solve this problem.
What is Jobscan?
Jobscan is a young startup company headquartered in Seattle, Washington (around where I live) whose mission is to help job seekers land jobs by getting around the ATS. Their small team of 14 people has helped over half a million job seekers around the world land their jobs through their resume scanning technology.
The Jobscan idea sparked when I was unemployed in 2013. I wanted to build a tool for myself that could help me land a job. As it turned out, many people also saw results using Jobscan. It has since become my mission to help others find jobs. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the tools our talented team make a real-world difference.James Hu, Jobscan Founder & CEO
Jobscan’s team definitely seems committed to its mission statement. Their website has a bunch of free resources for job seekers to optimize their resume and linkedin profiles. On angel.co (the largest online community of startups), they list the job seeker’s mindset as the first paragraph of their company’s description. They seem like genuine people who place their customers’ needs first.
As for what they do, Jobscan’s technology compares your resume with a job post and checks for keyword matches just like an ATS. Basically, it mimics an ATS filtering algorithm, scans your resume just like an ATS would, then tells you how well your resume stacks up by showing you specific keywords you need to properly tailor your resume. In theory, this should stop your resume from getting thrown out before anyone sees it and rank your resume higher in the ATS system.
It sounds like they know what they are doing. Their software was able to correctly identify which ATS a company was using 98% of the time. They use this information to tailor Jobscan’s algorithm for each unique ATS out there:
What we do here at Jobscan is conduct firsthand research on these applicant tracking systems. We test them and see how they work, then build our Jobscan optimization tools around that data.Jon Shields, Jobscan Marketing Manager
Does it work? In my experience: Yes. Keep on reading to learn more.
What Does Jobscan Offer?
Jobscan’s plans and all their details are listed on their website, but here’s essentially the list:
Free Forever Plan
- 5 Match Rate Calculations / month
- 5 Keyword Comparisons / month
- Limited Scan History (20)
- Resume Manager
- Jobscan Learning Center
- Unlimited Match Rate Calculations
- Unlimited Keyword Comparisons
- Unlimited Scan History
- Resume Manager
- Jobscan Learning Center
- LinkedIn Optimization after trial period
- Cover Letter Optimization
- Jobs That You Match
- Predicted Skills
- Resume Power Edit
- Premium ATS & Recruiter Findings
- ATS-Specific Tips
- ATS Revealed eBook
- 20 ATS Friendly Resume Templates
- Premium Cover Letter Template
As you can see from these two lists, their premium plans have a lot more to offer you than the basic free plan. They offer many features that simply make your life a lot easier and make some of their core features more convenient to use. They even throw in a 10 page eBook explaining everything they know about the ATS. Their resume templates can be helpful, but there are ATS friendly resume templates already out there for free already that you can find yourself with a quick search.
They have two pricing options for their premium plans. Their monthly plan is $49.95 per month. Their other plan is $89.95 for 3 months + a 1 month free trial, which comes out to $29.98 per month + a 1 month free trial. Both of them have the exact same offerings, the only difference is how you are paying.
Their most popular option (and the one I recommend) is their 3 month + 1 month free trial plan. This gives you a free month to try it out, then either cancel if you like (without getting charged) or continue using it at their lower $29.98 per month rate. It’s pretty much just a dollar per day commitment for 3 months.
If you are worried about landing a job before your plan expires and losing out on the remainder of your plan period, don’t worry too much about it. That situation doesn’t seem too likely. According to a survey of 2,000 Americans, the average job search will take about 5 months to complete. Mine took roughly that amount of time (126 days). Those 4 months will likely fit nicely into the duration of your job search (I’m sure they intended it to be that way).
The premium plans are nice and well worth the $30 per month. However, in my opinion, the free plan contains the most important core technology needed to tailor your resume. So if you don’t have the cash to spare, feel free to stick with their free forever plan. I’ve found that it worked just fine for my first job search.
How does Jobscan work?
Jobscan checks your resume for 5 things:
- Hard skills
- Education level (if an advanced degree is included in the job description)
- Job title
- Soft skills
- Other keywords
These are the 5 key factors that influence your match rate. However, Jobscan will also give you some tips to improve your resume for a human reader.
Jobscan explains how the details of how it works in more detail, but here’s a quick overview using my own resume and a real job posting I would have applied to. You can get through the whole process in just 3 steps:
1. Copy Paste Resume and Job Description
Go to their homepage, copy paste your resume in the left box, then copy paste a job posting in the right box. Click on SCAN to let Jobscan do its magic. They also let you try a sample resume if you don’t have your own on hand.
Jobscan will show you a match rate. This tells you how well your resume’s keywords line up with the job post’s keywords. They recommend you to reach an 80% match rate for optimal results. It’s pretty typical to start out with a 30-40% match rate in the first scan. This time I got lucky with a 50% match rate to start.
You will see a review of what Jobscan found to the right of the match rate. Below that, Jobscan gives you some general comments about your resume format. It also tells you if a particular role is a good fit for your background overall.
3. Add Keywords to Your Resume
The most important section you want to look at is the hard skills section. Here Jobscan lists the keywords that the ATS and the hiring manager are specifically looking for. This will have the biggest impact on your match rate. So make sure you add in as many of them as you can to your resume to reach the 80% mark. But try not to spam them mindlessly, the ATS can pick that up and penalize you. It will also show itself when someone actually looks at your resume. Try to work them into your work history appropriately.
The next most important place to look at is the soft skills section. These are usually just “leadership”, “teamwork”, and “critical thinking” buzzwords that the ATS think are important. I found these hard to smoothly work into my resume, but you will have to get at least some of these in to reach the 80% mark.
The other keywords section list some keywords that seem common in the job description. These are typically industry or job specific jargon. These shouldn’t be too hard to work in if you are applying for a job that is relevant to your background.
- It actually works. It boosted my response rate from 0% up to 5% in my first job search. Without Jobscan, I got no responses from 28 applications. After using Jobscan, I got 3 interview requests from 67 applications.
- It saves you a lot of time. It automatically pulls out the keywords so you don’t have to tediously go through line by line pulling them out yourself. Even if you did it manually, there’s no guarantee you would pick out the right ones.
- It reads your resume just like an ATS. It was designed to show you what an ATS sees. Now you don’t have to guess which keywords matter from the job description.
- The interface is easy to work with. It was really easy to get used to extracting information from the results quickly and efficiently. I knew exactly where to go and what to do to tailor my resume for a job description.
- You can get the most important stuff for free. You get 20 free scans per month and a 1 month free trial of the full version. The free scans give you the core features of Jobscan’s software without having to pay.
- It gives you confidence that you are doing something right in your job search. I’m going to be honest, my job search was really discouraging. It’s really demoralizing just to see all your hard work applying to jobs amount to nothing. When I discovered and started using Jobscan, it gave me a little morale boost just to have something validate that I’m doing something right in my job search. In the job search, a little morale goes a long way.
- The premium plan is kind of pricey. The premium version costs $30 per month if you buy the 3 month plan. The free version works fine, but you are limited to 20 scans per month. I easily reached that amount in just a few days of using Jobscan.
- It doesn’t work very well for jobs without clear hard skills. Some jobs I applied to didn’t have a clear list of hard skill requirements. They just had a short, vague posting saying something like “game changers apply here.” Obviously, Jobscan won’t work if there are no keywords to pull out in a job post. Same thing for small companies that only take resumes by email and job posts stating “no experience required”. If there is no ATS, Jobscan won’t help much.
- It sometimes pulls not so relevant keywords. In every scan that I did, some irrelevant keywords made it into the results. In the example I used above, you can see the keywords “follow up” in the soft skills section. That could have shown up because an ATS would do the same thing. But in the end, no human reader is going to give you brownie points for putting that in your resume.
- There’s a very heavy emphasis on the match rate, which may be misleading. There’s nothing inherently wrong with reaching the match rate. However, I think it may be slightly misleading for job seekers. While an 80% match rate may get you past the ATS, you have to be careful to ensure you aren’t coming across as spammy or gaming the system in the eyes of the recruiter. Jobscan does not have any way to measure this in your resume besides the direct keyword count. On the other hand, a low match rate should not necessarily discourage a job seeker from applying to a job post. I’ve had some callbacks from applications without an 80% match rate.
In this Jobscan review, I showed you how you can get more callbacks by tailoring your resume keywords. Jobscan makes this process a whole lot easier by automatically scanning your resume for you and compares it to a job posting.
I personally went from a 0% to a 5% response rate. Looking around elsewhere, I found some reports of people going from 30-40% to 40-50%. So it will boost your results even if you are already getting callbacks. Even if it helps you land a job 1-2 months sooner, it will have been worth the investment. This might even be true even if it was 1-2 days sooner (if the alternative is unemployment).
I hope this Jobscan review helped you decide whether or not to give it a try. I highly recommend giving it a try if you’ve been struggling to get callbacks. If you want to try Jobscan out for free, signup for either a free account or a free 1 month trial. My suggestion, try it out for a bit and keep track of your response rate before and after. You will see the results for yourself.
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