by Trista Winnie,  March 4, 2015 

Applicant Tracking Systems: A Tool, Not an Enemy

The average job posted online receives 250 applications, according to data from ERE. Because the interview process is time-consuming, most employers only interview a handful of candidates. With that many job seekers out there, you’re bound to be competing with people who have similar experience, qualifications, and accomplishments. In order to score an interview and land a job, you have to submit application materials–your resume and cover letter–that will get you noticed by an applicant tracking system.

Sending one version of your resume to as many job openings as you can is wasted effort. A generic resume, rather than one tailored for a specific job opening, is all but guaranteed to be lost in the shuffle. Some job seekers call applicant tracking systems “black holes”–and if you don’t target your resume, they can certainly seem that way. There are no perfect systems, but an ATS is a database that serves many purposes for employers, helping streamline the hiring process from recruiting to onboarding. Applicant tracking systems aren’t going anywhere, so to succeed in today’s job market, job seekers need to take them into account.

Targeted resume

  1. BRAINSTORM

The first step in writing your resume is to conduct a brainstorming session. Think of this step as an informal phase to organize your thoughts for the framework of your resume. On a piece of paper, write down every single job you’ve had--do not edit these jobs yet. Include internships, paid and unpaid, and summer jobs.

Now, add accomplishments to this list. Think of any awards or accolades you’ve been given throughout your professional life. These accomplishments should be measureable and include percentages or dollar amounts. Again, don’t be picky while brainstorming. You will edit this list later, but for now, the task is simply to get every part of your work history in front of you.

Thirdly, jot down any skills you have. Think software you’ve mastered, any personal skills you believe are strong and anything you’ve been complimented on my a manager or coworker. Some examples are Wordpress, computer programming, problem-solving, team leadership and Photoshop.

Lastly, jot down your education--including dates of attendance--as well as your contact information. This part is just to make sure you don’t leave any important information out later.

  1. CHOOSE A FORMAT

by John Krautzel

Your resume can open doors, but it can also slam them shut. In today's competitive world, standing out from the other applicants is no easy feat. Writing a resume that looks attractive and sells your skills and experiences effectively requires time, effort and a little know-how. Here are six important rules to keep in mind when writing a resume.

1. Check for Errors

When applying for jobs, the quickest way to send your resume to the bottom of the pile is to include a spelling or grammar error. After you've created your CV, take a few minutes and then come back to it. Then, wait a few hours and come back to it again. Ask friends and family members to check it, too. Don't even think about sending it out until you're fully confident that it's flawless.

2. Modify Your Resume to Fit the Position

by Jon Shields
 
If you’re unsure whether to write your resume in past tense or present tense, traditional advice sides with common sense. If you’re describing something in your past, use past tense. Managed, coded, designed, marketed. If you’re describing something you’re still doing in your current job, use present tense. Manage, code, design, market. 

Simple enough, right? Not so fast.

If someone is actually reading your resume top to bottom, that advice is sufficient. But most large companies use software that adds a layer of complexity to your word choices that extends beyond past and present tenses. Every keyword on your resume must be carefully considered.

Blame it on Applicant Tracking Systems
When you click “submit” on an online job application, your resume isn’t usually zapped directly to a hiring manager’s inbox for review. Most large companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) as an intermediary. These systems can automatically rate applicants or allow the hiring manager to search for specific terms. The problem with that? The matching and search capabilities of most ATS stink.

by John Krautzel 

Sometimes perfecting your resume is more about taking things off than making additions. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that more equals better. The best resumes get right to the point, sharing your value and leaving off the rest. Improve your resume by removing the following unhelpful items and improve your chances of landing an interview.

1. An Objective

Obviously, your objective is to get the job for which you applied. Improve your resume by taking this outdated item off and using that valuable space to share more of your accomplishments.

2. Too Many Keywords

While including a few keywords is important, more is not better. Matter of fact, some applicant tracking programs screen out resumes with too many keywords. When you do add keywords, be sure to include them naturally so that your resume reads comfortably and does a good job of depicting your qualifications.

3. A Photo