Automated systems often “read” your resume before a real person ever does. If not properly formatted your resume may never be viewed by a person at all. This is because most employers use a tool called an Applicant Tracking System or “ATS,” which helps them to automatically decide whether or not someone is qualified for a job opening. While these systems make things easier for employers, it can make getting hired much harder! The problem with this system is that it does not rely on the quality of your resume, but instead cares more about your word choice and the formatting of the resume document. This means that you can have a high quality resume, but if the system does not like your format, you are less likely to be called for an interview. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your resume survive ATS!
One of the most important considerations is your resume’s formatting— what it looks like and what kind of layout you are using. There are many resume templates out there that look great, but they break a lot of the rules that ATS uses to “read” your document. Here are some tips about what to avoid and what you should do when it comes to formatting your resume:
Solution - Keywords
Another important thing to think about are keywords. ATS heavily uses keywords to decide which resumes are good matches for job postings, so you need to match the words in your resume to the most important words used in the job description. Read the job description to decide what the most important words are and try to figure out how you can use those same words to describe your work experience and skills. How do you decide which words are these important keywords? Often, keywords are the required skills that are repeated the most in the job description. For additional help with identifying skill related keywords see Resume Tune-Up: Transferable Skills.
You are trying to prove to a robot that you are the best match for the job opening, so you need to use a lot of the same words to describe yourself that the employer uses to describe the job. Here are some tips for using keywords:
This system means that you really should customize your resume for each job application. Of course, this can take a lot of time, but it gives you a better chance at getting the job than using the same resume for every opening.
Looking for help creating a new—or strengthening an existing—resume? This list highlights a variety of resume writing resources that can help you communicate who you are and what you have to offer. It also includes an invitation to sign up for an online appointment with an IndyPL Career Center Assistant. #indypladults
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