Anyone conducting a job search understands the importance of having a great resume. After all, your resume is usually the first contact you have with an employer, the first chance to make a good impression. The world of recruiting has changed a great deal in the digital age though, and unfortunately, too many job seekers still do not understand that their resume writing technique needs to change as well,in order for it to stand the best possible chance of being noticed at all.
The simple fact is that often these days the first reader of a resume is not an actual human being at all. An ever increasing number of companies, even the smaller ones, are making use of an applicant tracking system. Basically, this an automated system that scans resumes for certain keywords, sorts them according to a set algorithm and then presents the hiring manager with the most promising candidates based on that criteria.
Crafting a resume which will appeal to both human recruiters and these new automated versions can seem like an arduous task, but taking the time to do so can pay big dividends in the long run. Here are a few tips and tricks for resume writing in the digital age:
1. Choosing the Right Keywords
As previously mentioned, an applicant tracking system scans resumes for certain keywords, much in the same way as the search engines do when ranking online content. Writing a resume that will appeal to a certain system’s algorithm might sound hard, but you can usually pick up a lot of clues as to what those keywords might be from the job postings of positions you are applying for. Mirroring the words and phrases that companies advertising these roles are using to describe the position is a good place to start.
2. Vary Your Keywords
Many applicant tracking systems are ‘set’ to search for how often a certain word and a certain variation of a word is used in a resume’s text. So, for example, if you are applying for a position in accounting you should make use of both the word ‘accounting’ and ‘accountant.’
3. Write for Computers and Humans
Some jobseekers, having realised that a computer is likely to be the first ‘eyes’ that read their resume, have begun adopting tactics to appeal directly to them, such as adding a list of keywords specifically for the computer to pick up, or, in a slightly shadier tactic, adding that list in white text on a white background so that a computer can pick it up but a human eye will probably not.
This however, is not a good idea. The keyword list may certainly get the resume past the computer’s algorithm but when it makes it to a human recruiter it will either give the impression that it is a jumbled mess or a savvier recruiter will pick up on the tactics being used right away and will often be less than impressed (especially if you made use of the ‘white on white’ technique. Practice the art of incorporating keywords into the body of the resume instead, so that it reads naturally to a human as well.
4. Be Careful with Online Submissions
A great many companies no longer accept old fashioned paper resumes, they require electronic submissions instead. As great a program as it is, many people do not realize that Microsoft Word (and similar softwares) contains special formatting characters that you cannot always see, but will be illegible to a computer. Therefore, you should always submit a text file version of your resume online, whether you are copy/pasting or sending an attachment. It is not as pretty as a Microsoft Word doc. but by doing so you will ensure that everyone – human and computer – can read and understand it with ease. Save the fancy version to take with you to the interview.
Have you gone high-tech in your resume writing approach or considered it? If you don’t think your resume is ready and you’re not sure where to start, email us and we can arrange for a resume health check to let you know if your resume will “cut it” in the digital age.
NB: If you are unsure of the quality of your résumé, why not try our FREE résumé health check service. We will let you know your résumé’s strengths and weaknesses, advise where you can correct it yourself and provide a price for correcting it for you.