The art of applying for jobs takes more than simply laying out your experience and skills. Nowadays, it is important to be aware of what companies are looking for beyond a list of credentials – in effect, the appropriate keywords and phrases to align with the job description.
Most large and small companies alike use applicant tracking systems to weed through piles of resumes they receive from potential candidates. This software tracks specified criteria, particularly in the first stage of selection, to organize and whittle down applications faster than a person.
Experts recommend using resume keyword optimization techniques to increase your chances of hearing from the companies to which you apply. These sophisticated systems can even store information and pull previous applicants from their databases at a later time. You may be wondering at this point – what does it take to write a computer friendly resume?
Resumes and cover letters are scanned into applicant tracking systems, searched and ranked according to how many matches there are to the keywords the company has assigned. Your keywords should include the job title, necessary skills, responsibilities and experience, education and certifications, and applicable industry terminology – including common acronyms and abbreviations, all of which are include in the job description.
It is important to consider what keywords would be most important to the companies seeking candidates, including synonyms and various tenses. When you have the option to upload a resume or embed your content into a text box, many people may be surprised to learn that it is better to upload your documents.
Any formatting in your resume – such as pictures, logos, headers and footers – can make it difficult to read in plain text. Experts recommend deterring from too much formatting since applicant tracking systems and resume parsers do not read this clearly. This can frustrate reviewers and may even cause companies’ computer systems to error when scanning your resume.
New resume parsing technology is beginning to include advanced features that scans documents like a human being. It not only recognizes your experience but how thorough it is, your familiarity with the subject matter, and how recently skills have been used in your career.
As always, experts encourage applicants to review their resume and cover letters, and even to have others do it for you with a fresh set of eyes. Mistakes in spelling, punctuation, grammar and capitalization may confuse resume screening software that tracks your application, which could force reviewers to manually enter in the data themselves and ultimately disregard your resume as a result.
Quick responses to inquiring hiring managers are also necessary to demonstrate your enthusiasm and snatch up an available interview spot or even the job itself. Companies often receive numerous applications and can simply move on to the next candidate if you fail to get back to them promptly. That means checking your spam folder too.
When you are interested in more than one position at a company, be advised that recruiters are aware when you send additional resumes. It is perfectly fine – especially since they will vary in appropriate keywords – as long as your different applications do not contradict each other.
And if you know someone at the company who can offer an employee referral, be sure to take advantage and include this in your application. Employee referrals often hold more weight to a company searching for the ideal candidate. Some recruiters may even set up their applicant tracking systems to recognize referrals and rank your resume higher.
Remember to review your application for errors and keep appropriate keywords and phrases in mind. More than anything, it is important to ensure that your machine friendly resume is clear and concise since this is your introduction to the company and you want to make a good impression.