You filled out the job application, updated your resume and clicked “Submit.” But as the days or weeks pass, you never receive a phone call or email from the employer. What happened?
Unbeknownst to many job seekers, a whopping 72% of resumes are never seen by human eyes. Why? Well, employers large and small now use applicant tracking software to parse the information from your resume and map it into a database called an ATS (applicant tracking system).
From this information, the system will assign you a score based on how well you match the job the employer is trying to fill, and then rank and sort all candidates. Naturally, the potential employees with the highest scores move on, while others are left in the dust.
Wondering how you can optimize your resume and rank highly in the employer’s ATS? Here are several tricks to improving your resume’s score.
1. Use Language from the Job Description: Look through the job listing to determine the skills required. Identify industry terms, buzzwords and jargon the hiring manager uses most frequently in the description and incorporate these words into your resume when possible and applicable — the ATS is looking for these keywords.
2. Get Rid of Images and Graphics: Remember, the ATS is breaking down the information you’re providing and sorting it into different “buckets.” It will not be able to read or understand an image.
3. Choose Fonts Carefully: Stick with standard web-safe fonts like Arial, Georgia, Impact, Courier, Lucinda, Tahoma or Trebuchet.
4. Don’t Hide Keywords: Think adding in a bunch of keywords in white text is the best way to rank highly? Think again.
5. Get Rid of Irrelevant Information: Only include past positions and skills that are relevant to the job at hand. Irrelevant positions just end up as filler — a waste of valuable real estate on your resume.
6. Don’t Use Any Special Characters: Standard bullets are fine, but other characters (such as arrows) can cause issues that could prevent the ATS from correctly parsing your information.
7. Avoid Fancy Borders and Shading: Stick to simple templates that are easy to read.
8. Pump Up Your Skills Section: Most employers use their ATS to search by specialized or technical skills. Make sure your resume includes any special skills you’ve attained, such as computer programs, strengths, competencies and other abilities. Spell out your skills and include industry-specific abbreviations or acronyms that the employer may also search for when finding candidates with the right experience.
9. Create a Customized Professional Summary: Include a list of bulleted achievements and qualifications that relate to the job description and desired skills.
10. Ditch Spelling Errors: The ATS will miss important keywords when they are misspelled. Avoid mistakes: Spell check, read your document backwards and have a friend (or two) look it over. You can never be too safe.
11. Place Contact Information at the Top: Don’t forget to include vital information, such as your phone number and email address. The ATS may even send an email after you’ve applied to the position with additional instructions — so check your spam folder religiously to ensure you don’t miss further communications.
12. Tailor Each and Every Resume: Different ads will contain different keywords and phrases. If you want your resume to be one of the top rated for each position, you must tailor your skills and experience to each opportunity.
Unless you know your highly stylized resume won’t be taking a trip through an ATS, it’s best to save your infographic resume for the in-person interview and upload a .doc or PDF instead.