A growing number of large and mid-sized employers are now using technology to sift through volumes of candidate resumes. How can you use this trend to your advantage? In the world of 21st century staffing, a single online job post can be seen around the world in seconds, which means a single open position can attract hundreds of applicants in a day. And while this global format brings advantages to both parties (job seekers and also employers), it means that a manager who once only had 10 applications to consider may now receive more resumes than one person (or small team) can ever possibly review by hand. Enter the ATS, or applicant tracking system. This hiring technology comes in a wide variety of designs and is produced by many different software providers, but all ATS platforms share a common goal: they allow managers to sift through a large database of candidate profiles without applying human eyes to every single document. So if you’re searching for work, what does this mean to you? In an age of robots and automatic resume scanners, how can you make sure your documents receive the human attention and careful review they deserve? Here are a few moves that can help.
As you break your resume into sections, make sure your headings, the content of each section, and the order of your sections are all organized in accordance with resume writing best practice. You may feel like a boring old standard resume format doesn’t accurately represent who you are as a person, but in this case, it’s better to conform to the status quo than to do your own thing. Why? Because an ATS breaks down submitted resumes automatically by section, allowing each section to be uploaded separately. Don’t confuse the system by including unique subsections or complicated charts and tables. Scanners won’t give you the benefit of the doubt.
Use Plenty of Keywords
Stock your resume with the kinds of keywords and phrases that employers might use to identify perfect matches within a database. Since you aren’t sure what these keywords might be, use your common sense and your detective skills. Put yourself in the shoes of your target employers and read the job post carefully. Which skills and credentials seem to matter most? If you have these skills, mention them in your resume using the exact wording you see in the post. If the post says “HTML proficiency”, say that. Don’t say “Expert in coding” or “dev skills”. To beat the robots, think like a robot.
Don’t Miss an Opportunity
The skills section is an ideal space to include keywords that may not organically fit into your resume summary, education, or work experience sections. For instance, if a job requires Spanish language skills, and you can speak fluently but haven’t needed to use this know-how at your past jobs, be sure to mention it in the skills section to get credit for a keyword an ATS could be searching for.
Don’t work so hard to impress the ATS system that you forget to impress your human readers. Sooner or later—if you make it far enough—your resume will definitely be seen by human eyes. So don’t lose the race on the final stretch. Make sure your sentences are fluid and clearly written, and don’t force in keywords that don’t fit or skills and credentials that you don’t actually have. (Keep in mind that “clever” tricks can ruin your chances instead of helping you, for example, inserting phrases like “I may not have HTML proficiency, but…”) — During every stage of the drafting and editing process, keep your resume on track and ready for success. Use the resources at Quintcareers to give yourself every possible advantage.
Posted: January 25, 2016