Technology has altered the hiring process significantly, especially when it comes to resumes. Due to the overwhelming volume of responses to posted positions, most mid- to large-sized companies are now using applicant-tracking systems to perform a first-level screening of incoming resumes.
Although the software has been around for a while, many job-seekers are unaware of how it works. This mistake can be costly because applicant tracking systems process today's massive numbers of resumes, whittle them down to a manageable size and select only those that are suitable to pass along to reviewers and recruiters. As a savvy applicant, you should presume that the resume you submit to an online posting will be screened in or out by this software.
In order to ensure your resume gets passed along, you'll need to:
Learn the rules of the game. Applicant tracking systems are programmed to allow only those resumes that match the search criteria (i.e. keywords) to make it through the screening process and eventually wind up on the recruiter's computer screen. If yours does not reflect what they're looking for, it will disappear into the black hole of cyberspace, unseen by human eyes.
Give them what they want. You'll need to match your skill sets to the skills advertised in the posting. Whatever you put on your resume needs to be 100 percent truthful; however, it is your decision as to which skills you choose to emphasize. So ignore your creative urges and repeat the words you find in the posting. Remember, software cannot make assumptions -- your resume needs to duplicate the advertised skills as closely as possible.
Make your resume eye friendly. If your resume does make it through the screening process of the applicant-tracking software, it will eventually be viewed by a human screener/recruiter. Most reviewers claim to give a resume only a 30-second scan to determine whether or not it is worth reading. Your key skills and experience, therefore, need to be readily visible and literally leap out at the reader. This means you'll not only need to match the skills and keywords in the ad but also place them at the top of your resume, surrounded by plenty of white space, and use bullet points to catch the eye.
Ask yourself the "so what" question. Although keywords and skills are critical in getting through the initial screening process, you'll need to sell the reviewer on your abilities by stressing your accomplishments. Asking yourself "so what" after each bulleted statement on your resume will help you focus on the positive results you've achieved.
By following these four tips, your resume should make it through the scanners and screeners and could well become your ticket through the door to an interview. That is when you can flesh out your valuable skill sets and highlight your personal strengths.
Technology plays an important role in today's job market, but nothing beats the impact of a confident candidate with a winning attitude!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that helps you turn your age into an advantage. It's packed with information providing mature applicants with the tools to successfully navigate the modern job market and gain the edge over the competition. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!
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