9 Tactical Ways to Optimize your Resume
If you are writing your resume for a human being to read you are missing out! In the modern employment market more than 70% of resumes are initially read by software rather than an actual person. With a little research and some editing you can make sure that your resume gets noticed. This article will show you how to optimize your resume so that it receives the attention it deserves.
Recruiting software or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are designed to assist an employer recruit employees. One of its primary functions is to follow an algorithm to quickly identify the best qualified candidates. Since the average job posted receives 250 resumes it’s easy to see why these systems have grown in popularity. Employers simply do not have time to sift through all of the applicants.
The employer can tell the ATS to look for candidates nearby who have a specific combination of keywords and phrases on their resume. For example, if searching for a Director of Customer Service for an electronics distributor in Boise the employer may ask the ATS to search for:
“customer service” + “Boise” + “distributor” + “electronics”
Know your audience. These 3 key words are the basis of success in many endeavors. Writing your resume is no different. Now that you know who your audience is we can begin…..
Here are some tactical ways you can get noticed by both software and the human eye.
1. Save your resume in PDF format
2. Mirror the job description
ATS are very helpful but they are not smart. They can only seek exactly what the recruiter told them to find. Use the exact same keywords that are on the job description. Ultimately, this is the best chance of getting noticed.
For example, if the ATS is searching for ‘human resource’ experience and your resume lists ‘HR experience’ you will be passed over. It’s a good bet that the recruiter will enter the search terms into the ATS in the same way that they are written in the job description so study the description and mirror it everywhere possible on your resume.
3. Include the title of the job you want
Since an employer is searching for something specific one of the very first keywords they use is the title of the position they are trying to fill. If they need a product engineer they will certainly include ‘product engineer’ in their search criteria. So if you aspire to be a zookeeper, make sure your resume contains the word ‘zookeeper’.
4. Don’t Over Do It
Don’t try to fool the ATS. If you list a strong keyword more than 3 times on your resume you are risking rejection by the software. An ATS will most likely disregard your resume if it has more than a 95% match to the job description.
5. Minimize Graphics
Graphics like charts, profile pictures or logos used to be a great way to dress up a resume. Today, it’s better to remove them. ATS’s are getting better at recognizing graphics. However the best you can hope for is that the ATS will ignore the graphic rather than getting hung up on it. Your best bet is to remove any graphic you don’t feel is necessary. They may be pretty but it won’t matter if you never get a chance to interview.
6. Keep it Simple
In days past some resumes were more like a work of art. Ornate graphics, multiple fonts and colors helped to make the document stand out to the person reviewing applications. Creativity does not impress an ATS. To keep a simple resume, don’t add more than two colors and avoid mixing fonts.
7. Use Traditional Section Headers
ATS are good at identifying info contained in common sections of a resume. If you use traditional section titles like Professional Experience, Education, Skills and Contact Information the ATS is sure to pick it up. Even better is to capitalize all section headers. ATS put more emphasis on capitalized words.
8. Functional Job Titles
Unique job titles like ‘Digital Dynamo’ or ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’ are fun and show personality, but software isn’t seeking a fun personality.
The ATS will understand your resume if you use a more traditional and functional title. Therefore, ‘Digital Marketing Associate’ and ‘Director of Marketing’ are smarter choices.
9. Also optimize your resume for the human eye
After the ATS selects your resume, a live human being will review it. A person will see the document much differently than the software. Therefore, a resume should be relevant easy-to-read and in a format that will please the human eye.
It is frustrating to apply to a great job and never hear back about it. Now you know your resume is probably being read by software. Take these 9 steps to create an advantage in your career search. The results will be well worth the effort!
Have a specific question about how to optimize your resume? I’m happy to help and hope that you will send me a private message.