You put hard work into your resume and cover letter and then sent them off. Now, you think, all you have to do is wait for someone to see them. But what if no one ever actually does? The reality is that many resumes don’t even see human eyes. Instead, they’re screened out by applicant tracking systems (ATS) that are designed to wean out unsuitable candidates.
How does ATS work?
An ATS uses an algorithm to make candidacy searches easier on HR departments. These systems use modern job search language to decide whether or not a resume should be passed along to an actual person. If your resume isn’t using the same parlance, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are: chances are, your resume won’t make it through the filters.
How to Beat the Bots
Much like a top ranking website needs to use keywords to stay on top of the search list, so does your resume. And, much like using solid search engine optimisation strategies to bolster a website’s success, you can’t just stuff the keywords in there: you need to use them strategically throughout your resume and you need to use the right ones in the right combination in the right section of your resume.
Exhausted already? Well, you can enlist the help of professional resume writing services to jump the line and clear the bots, or you can take a deep breath, and keep reading.
Use Standard Sections
ATS will look for the standard sections of resumes. You know, work experience, qualifications, education, social media profiles and skills. So, don’t get creative with these standard resume elements. Call your education experience your education experience. Don’t call it your ‘academic cartography’. It’s cute, but the ATS won’t know what you mean. It’s a robot, not a person.
Use Keywords to Brand Yourself
You should brand yourself using high power keywords at the start of your resume. If you’re applying for a job as Chief Marketing Officer, write that! Again, now is not the time to say that. After you clearly state what you are, write a brief synopsis of what makes you special.
Example: Marketing expert with a track record of developing and implementing game-changing digital and print marketing initiatives across all platforms.
To pick out the most valuable keywords to use, look no further than the job posting. What words are used to describe the candidate they are seeking? What qualifications do you have that they specifically said they need? Do you need to be a subject matter expert? Great! Include that, and don’t use only the abbreviation, SME. Write it out too.
Don’t use images. Bots cannot read images or graphs.
Keep the layout simple.
Use a clean, standard font (i.e. Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond)
Include any relevant courses you have taken.
Don’t use PDF, unless specified.
Make it as long as it needs to be, but stay on-point.
And remember, DO NOT spam the bots with keyword saturation. Use the keywords when and as necessary, making sure they feature but are only used when relevant. Got it? Good! Now your resume stands a fair chance of making it past ATS and into the hands of a human.