I Don’t Think My Resume Is Working: Job Search Q & A

This week, the Livecareer team answers a few questions we’ve recently received from our readers and visitors. We’ve chosen questions that deal specifically with one aspect of the job search: the power (and the limits) of a great resume. What can your resume really do for you?

Question #1:  ATS-timate

“I’ve been reading a lot lately about how to navigate application tracking systems, and most of the advice is pretty much the same: game the system and load your document with random keywords in order to make sure your name appears in the list of results when employers perform a keyword search. Some sites even recommend that you create a list of keywords at the end of your resume just so that you can use words that didn’t fit into the text and don’t relate to your actual credentials.

What kind of system is this? If resumes are reduced to random lists of words, then what’s the point? Why not just send the employers my name and phone number and hope they call me?”


Don’t overestimate the power of ATS systems or resume-reading bots. In the end, intelligent staffing decisions will always be made by humans. ATS systems are not designed to select candidates; they’re just designed to narrow an enormous pool of resumes by weeding out those that are a complete mismatch, part of a spam campaign, incomplete, or submitted by accident.

If you’re a fit for the job, then you’ll have a fair shot at an interview—Smart employers will always find a way to make this happen. After all, they’re looking for you just as hard as you’re looking for them.

Question #2: Out of Luck

“I don’t think my resume is working. And I think the reasons are pretty clear: I find most of the positions that I pursue using online job boards, and I’m pretty sure that each of these open positions attracts hundreds of resumes in a single day. How can I compete with those kinds of odds?

I mean, my resume is just a one-page document and my credentials are probably no different than those of any other applicant. So I have a college degree and few years of experience…who doesn’t? Can you throw me a rope here? Because I’m getting discouraged and I’m starting to think that finding a job is just a matter of luck—luck that I just don’t have.”


Some of what you say is unfortunately true. National online job boards DO attract very large numbers of applicants. But you’ll increase your odds and jump ahead of your competition if you keep a few things in mind.

First, a well-written resume really does make a difference, simply because an astonishing number of resumes are riddled with easily avoidable mistakes, formatting problems, and missed opportunities.

And second, online job boards aren’t your only option…or even your best option. Your personal contacts and your real life social network will get you off the market much, much faster than a few hours a day in front of a screen. Put down the mouse and pick up the phone.

Make Your Resume Great…Not Just Good

For tools and guidance that can help you get the most out of your hard-earned credentials, visit LiveCareer today. 

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