BEAT THE ROBOTS: HOW TO GET YOUR RESUME PAST THE SYSTEM AND INTO HUMAN HANDS
Landing an interview can feel impossible if you don't have any personal connections. People often blame the sheer volume of resumes that are submitted - HR simply can't review them all with enough detail to see what a perfect candidate you are! One study suggests that recruiters spend only six seconds looking at each resume. However, many resumes are trashed before they're even seen by human eyes. How is that possible?
Here's how: Many organizations rely on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help pre-filter resumes. The systems work by scanning resumes for contextual keywords and key phrases, mathematically scoring them for relevance, and sending only the most qualified ones through for human review. Undoubtedly, this saves HR managers the time and trouble of sorting through irrelevant, underprepared, and weak resumes to find the golden candidates. But it also means that you could slip through the cracks if you don't format your resume just right or include the exact keywords the hiring manager is searching for.
To make sure you get in the door for an interview, check out these tips for wiritng a resume that an ATS will approve - and a hiring manager will love.
1 - Keep Formatting Simple - While you might want to highlight your creativity or individuality to a hiring manager, ATS' require cold conformity and simplicity. Therefore, you'll need to delete any extra touches you've added to your resume, like logos, pictures, symbols, and shadings. Also stick to standard resume formatting in a normal font like Arial, Courier, or Times New Romal - the ATS can't ready fancy fonts and will reject your resume out of confustion.
2 - Nail the Correct Keywords - For any profession, there's always lingo, software, responsibilities, basic skills, and licenses or certificates associated with performing the job well - and an ATS will be looking for key phrases and contextual information related to those qualifications. Include verb phrases and skills written in the job description on your own resume. These are very likely to be the same keywords and phrases the hiring manager has programmed the ATS to pick up.
3 - Ditch the Career Objective Section - Career objective sections are kind of a waste of space. Instead, replace this with a qualifications summary - a six sentence (or bullet pointed) section filled with ATS-friendly keywords. Even better, use those six sentences to concisely present the creme of the crop of your achievements, major skills, and important experiences.
4 - Don't Make Any Spelling Mistakes - Seriously, spelling mistakes are the death of your resume. While a human being can at least figure out what you mean (before tossing your resume into the trash in disapproval), an ATS will terminate you immediately because it will simply have no idea what you're talking about. Double, triple, and quadruple check your resume before sending it in. Have someone else do the same. Spelling mistakes can be easily avoided if you're careful.
At the end of the day, once your resume passes the unfailing eye of the ATS, it will then be scrutinized by a human eye. The good news is that all of the advice for optimizing your resume for ATS is simply good resume practice. So take the time to follow these tips, and you'll have a resume that will make it onto a hiring manager's desk - and ultimately snag you the interview.