One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make each year is to find a new or better job. But just as tools, technology, and standards change across any industry, the same holds true for how employees are now qualified and hired.
You’ve probably heard this advice for making your resume stand out: Sprinkle in plenty of juicy keywords so recruiters will pluck your document out of the pile. But these days, the first review of your resume is more likely to be a software program, known as an applicant tracking system (ATS), than a human being interested in the quality of your paper stock and the power of your prose.
Here are five tips for assembling a technology-friendly resume and getting though the initial software scanning phase:
1- 90% of large companies use a resume scanning system
Plenty of medium-sized companies use them too. The indicator is that if you are ever asked to copy/paste or upload your resume when applying to a position, your resume will most likely be scanned by a computer. The resume is then scored, usually on a percentage match basis, with a certain percentage of those resumes making the initial cut. It’s usually after this point that a “human” sees your resume for the first time.
2- Create a scanner-friendly resume by working in relevant keywords
Much like a golfer uses a particular type of club for a certain situation on the golf course, the best resume strategy to employ right now is to have a couple different resumes for each type of position you are interested in applying for. The best way to develop a scanner-friendly resume is to research online job descriptions that meet your career criteria and then assemble a list of keywords and phrases that are found in the majority of the job descriptions. These are the main skills and terms you should have in your resume. Then, further refine your resume for each individual position you are applying for by working in skills that are found early in the job description, repeated, or emphasized as “required or must have”—provided you can validate these skills in the job interview.
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3- Do not “laundry list” skills on your resume
Resume scanning systems are getting more sophisticated each year so it may not be enough to simply laundry list your skills on your resume. Many ATS systems now use “contextualizing” as a means of evaluating how the term is used in your resume. Stand alone skills don’t score as well when compared with skills that are framed with material that describes experience and familiarity with the subject and how recent the skill was used or acquired in the applicant’s career path.
4- Simple formatting and common fonts work best
Sometimes applicants will attempt to stand out by using pictures, graphics or logos on their resume. This can choke the system which may cause the scanner to misread the resume or spit it out all together. Use common fonts and standard margins only for best results. Also, if given the option to copy/paste or upload your resume, choose the upload option which seems to do a better job of preserving the information. Copying and pasting can often lead to a garbled mess when it’s received on the recruiter’s end.
5- Increase your chances: proofread, network, check spam folder settings, employee referral
1) Always proofread your work as missed punctuation can confuse the scanner about where to begin and end. It can force the recruiter to enter fields manually which most won’t do.
2) Respond swiftly to any recruiter’s request for an interview—usually within 24 hours.
3) Check your spam folder settings as most will mark any auto-generated emails (which may be important instructions from an employer) as junk mail.
4) Applying more than once to a position will not help, but hinder, your chances. One resume is better than 100.
5) You always have a better chance if an employee submits the resume so continue to network throughout your job search. The human element still carries the day.