Time for a Resume Tune-up – 5 Ways Your Resume Can Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

Finding a job may seem impossible if you do not have any connections. There are so many resumes flooding recruiters in the recruiting department, that, in some instances, they have no way of looking at every single resume they get every day. Nevertheless, resumes are evaluated and rejected every day without ever even being seen by human eyes.  How does that work?

Well, most major firms and corporations use Applicant Tracking Systems, which help pre-filter resumes.  This system scans for keywords, or phrases, scoring the resumes for importance, and then sending only the MOST qualified resumes through for actual human review.

To make sure your resume gets through these Applicant Tracking Systems, and into human hands, here are 5 important tips for your resume.

  1. Simple Formatting is Key

Although you may want to get creative in writing your resume, Applicant Tracking Systems can only read the very basic of formatting. You may want to get rid of any logos, pictures, tables, or graphs on your resume. You may also want to change the font of your resume to Arial or Times New Roman. Applicant Tracking Systems are unable to read any of the fancier fonts, and therefore, will discard your resume.

Also, you should only include the basic and usual sections that can be found on a resume. Such as: Qualifications Education, Skills, etc. When you add unfamiliar headings it then throws off the Applicant Tracking system and it will again reject your resume.

Lastly, make sure to be sending your resume as a Word document, rather than a PDF file. Applicant Tracking Systems sometimes miss important information if it tries to process your resume as a PDF.

  1. Use the Right Keywords

At any job, there is always specific jargon, responsibilities, licenses, or certifications, and the like with regards to doing the job well. The Applicant Tracking System will pick up on these keywords, which relate to the job, are used in your resume. You can use these keywords to optimize your resume.

HOWEVER, DO NOT GO OVERBOARD! The Applicant Tracking System software is smart enough to see that you are just stuffing a bunch of keywords in your resume. If you do overstuff your resume with these keywords, and then it does make it to the hands of a real person, they will not be impressed with your senseless resume.

Aim for repeating skill-related keywords two or three times, and no more!

  1. Ditch the Career Objective Section on your Resume

Instead of putting the Career Objective section on your resume, replace it with a qualifications summary. It is obvious that you want to work for “Company-A” otherwise you would not have applied in the first place. You need to show the company that THEY need YOU, not the other way.

So, in the qualifications summary, you can fill this with Applicant Tracking System keywords, as well as mentioning your achievements, major skills, and so forth. This way you are able to appease the Applicant Tracking System, but also giving the hiring manager the important information he/she needs to know in order to bring you into the company.

  1. Do NOT Start Your Work Experience with Dates

To make sure Applicant Tracking System actually read and signify your work experience correctly, make sure you are always mentioning the employers name first, and foremost. After that, follow with your title, and then the dates of when you held those particular titles. Applicant Tracking System looks for company names first, rather than the dates of when you held these positions.

  1. Do NOT Make Any Spelling Mistakes

Spelling mistakes absolutely ruin your resume. When you have a spelling mistake and it goes through the Applicant Tracking System software, your resume will get terminated immediately because it will not be able to understand what you’re trying to say. Even if your resume were to be looked at by human hands first, although that person might be able to figure out what you mean, regardless they will automatically throw your resume in the trash.

To make sure this does not happen, be sure to double, triple, and quadruple check your resume before finally sending it in. You may want to have others read it as well, and see if they see any mistakes. It is better to be extra cautious, than careless.

Jacqueline Hill, Esq.

This post was written by .

Jacqueline Hill is a partner at Lexacount Search, where she places top senior-level and other legal talent with law firms and corporate legal departments across the United States. She has been writing about careers, lawyers, attorney professional development, and the legal industry for more than a decade. She can be reached at jacqueline.hill@lexacount.com or 215-740-0104, extension 101.

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