Recruiting software and applicant tracking systems are increasingly used by employers to pre-screen job candidates’ resumes. While these programs save invaluable time for hiring managers and recruiters, they are also flawed and error-prone, sometimes even eliminating excellent job candidates from consideration.
To ensure that your professional resume isn’t mistakenly thrown out, follow these 5 easy steps.
1) Don’t use fancy formatting or fonts on your resume.
Applicant tracking systems typically misread tables and graphics you put on your resume, so while it may look creative and unique, unfortunately any valuable information you have will be lost. To avoid this from happening, it’s best to use a simple format with easily identifiable headings. Sending your resume as a PDF document can also make it more difficult for applicant tracking systems to read, so try sending or posting them as a Word document.
2) Identify industry and job specific keywords.
Look at job postings in your industry to find keywords, such as desired skills and experiences employers are looking for in job candidates. Try using as many as you can throughout your resume, in a legitimate way. Experts actually say the length of your resume doesn’t matter to these software programs, so it’s useful to make your resume longer to make it more detailed.
3) Vary the terms you use on your resume.
While some recruiting software is advanced enough to recognize variations of words that mean the same thing, it’s still good to vary the way you detail your skills and experiences. For example, if you were a “grant writer” it may also be a good idea to say you “wrote proposals” or “procured funding.” This will ensure that regardless of how an employer searches for a particular keyword, your resume shows up as a match.
4) Emphasize relevant accomplishments.
If your resume does make it past the recruiting software systems, chances are hiring managers will only spend about 10 seconds scanning your resume to size up your experiences. The more detailed accomplishments you can emphasize with your past experiences, the better your chances will be of getting called for an interview.
5) Follow-up with a phone call or mail a hard copy of your resume.
There are actually few job candidates that follow up a job application with a phone call or copy of their resumes. Unless a job posting specifically requests applicants not to call, this can be a good opportunity to ask the hiring coordinator or HR manager if they’ve received your documents and what the next steps are. You can also mail in a hard copy of your resume, stating that this is your second submission and that you’re very interested in the position. Following up can help job candidates stand out amongst the large number of applicants.