Are you tired of applying to jobs and never getting a reply? Submitting your resume and not hearing back? The problem is that a majority of resumes don't ever reach a human to begin with. According to some estimates, "98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening," says Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts. Thankfully, just getting your resume past the initial hurdle and into a human's hands will increase your chances dramatically.
So, want to improve the chances your resume will land in human hands? The first hurdle you'll have to jump will be the bots.
For most online job applications, you'll have to learn how to write a resume that will make it past robots–automated programs designed to scan your resume and determine if its worthy of human for consideration. Recruiters, hiring managers, and human resource departments turn these bots loose to weed out resumes that don't match what they're looking for, and given that "98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening," chances are high that your resume succumbs to these bots.
These automated bots — Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — are everywhere in today's online employment market. For job hunters, understanding how to write a resume that makes it past this first hurdle can be a critical challenge. Thankfully, there are services like LiveCareer's resume builder that optimize your resume to cross that obstacle with ease.
Debbie Wilner, a recruiter with about 20 years of experience, doesn't see employers ditching their Applicant Tracking Systems anytime soon.
"The number of applications an employer can receive per job posting can be hard to manage without an ATS," she said. "An ATS provides a tremendous opportunity to identify strong candidates who have already expressed an interest in your company."
Wilner, Senior Vice President of Recruitment at Edelman Communications, adds that while an ATS can be an initial hurdle for applicants, it can also be beneficial.
"Often a position will get filled and the remainder of applications are then stored in the system. There are now modules within ATS and recruiting software programs that connect to a company's ATS that help recruiters more easily identify and engage top talent already in their pipelines, online, at events and in many other ways," Wilner said.
About 90 percent of large companies already use an Applicant Tracking System—your resume will be scanned, analyzed, and scored (and stored) based on the system's algorithm.
To beat the bots and land your dream job, you should use a professional resume-builder to give your resume a reboot. This can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that can kill your chances. These services use expert techniques to create an ATS-friendly resume and help you avoid the following traps.
First, the Format
Bots don't care for flair. In other words, that pizzazz that you've used in the past to make your resume stand out to recruiters won't do you any good since they may never even see it! Most ATS strip away as much formatting as they can to get to the plain text in your resume. This can help both score the content in your resume as well as import it into a uniform candidate profile.
That means that if the system glitches on any of the formatting in your resume, it may not accurately analyze the content. Resume-builders have mastered the art of bot-friendly formatting. These services have taken the guess work out of style, design and font choice. They offer many resume templates that are both ATS- and human-friendly, allowing you to focus on the writing of your resume.
They provide easy-to-use templates that with basic formatting that:
1) Are in a DOC or TXT format.
2) Use basic and widely recognizable fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman.
3) Help you avoid unprofessional graphics, imagery, symbols, and any other design features that will trip up the bots.
4) Assist you in the completion of standard accepted headings such as Education, Work Experience, Skills, Languages, etc., rather than creative ones the only confuse Applicant Tracking Systems.
5) Guide you on the use of bold text and underlining to call out key information.
Keywords Are THE Key
Keywords–the right ones–throughout your resume make the bots very happy.
As the ATS deconstructs each resume, it will be looking for those keywords. The more you have, the better your chances. However, if you stuff your resume with keywords, it could be flagged—and trashed—by aggressive bots. You'll need to strike a balance between too few and too many keywords.
Edelman's Wilner says that when it comes to getting a passing grade with an ATS, the job description on the online posting can be your best friend.
Hiring managers will identify and input the keywords and phrases most relevant to the job they are trying to fill in that description. The same keywords and phrases in the job description were also often programmed into the ATS. So, it is important to include those keywords and phrases throughout a summary statement, employment history and accomplishments so it has a better chance of passing the bots.
Professional assistance from an online resume builder will help you identify the appropriate keywords and will suggest smart keyword rich phrases to be included in the important areas of your resume, without over-doing it.
The service will also help you avoid keyword stuffing and impress the bots by:
1) Helping you including related keywords that demonstrate you truly know your stuff. For example, if you are applying for a position as a security officer, putting the phrase "patrol" over and over again in your resume will not be as effective as scattering a variety of related words (such as patrol, monitor, surveillance, etc.) throughout your resume.
2) Assisting you in using keywords in context. Since there is a lot of overlap among various jobs (for example, sales and marketing), having the keywords in the correct context is critical.
3) Customizing each of your resumes for each job you apply for, with keywords targeted to that particular job.
4) Making sure your contact information is included at the top of each page–and not in a header or footer. If your resume makes it to the top of the pile, the hiring manager needs to know how to reach you.
A Few 'Don'ts'
When you use an online resume builder, you can avoid some of the most common and obvious hazards that can doom consideration of your resume. These services provide a check, making sure your resume is ready for primetime. Who doesn't need another set of eyes on their resume?
For example, this may sound obvious, but having spelling errors in your resume is a big no-no: if keywords aren't spelled correctly, they won't matter one bit. And even if your resume makes it past the ATS with these simple-to-fix mistakes, the hiring manager may not be as forgiving.
Leaving out employment dates for all your previous positions could also threaten your resume's success with an ATS. Even in the world of artificial intelligence, this information is important since some ATS algorithms are capable of measuring the amount of experience you have.
In these days of technological dependence, sometimes it takes a bot to beat a bot, and it's important to keep in mind that an online resume builder will help outsmart the ATS by partnering with jobseekers to create professional resumes that capture the attention of hiring managers. Do yourself a favor and use a professional resume builder to write a resume that will improve your chances of getting past the electronic gatekeepers.