Below are tips to create a killer resume with a sample resume template
Make your resume ATS friendly
“By the way, what is an ATS?” a friend wondered aloud as the presenter of our resume writing class at Nova Job Center droned on using acronyms that nobody understood.
ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. It’s a software used by most companies to screen resumes. Unfortunately, most standard resumes are formatted in such a way that they cannot be properly read by the ATS.
Before you submit a resume online, make sure it’s in a format that can be accurately read by the ATS. Later in this chapter, we’ll explore best practices for creating an ATS-friendly resume.
Always include a cover letter
I find it incredibly disheartening when a candidate, usually in a hurry to move on to the next job application, declines to submit a cover letter for a job. Doing this is like going into battle without your greatest weapon. It’s a colossal mistake! How else can you highlight in detail your most impressive accomplishments? As a rule of thumb, always include a cover letter with your job applications, whether it’s required or not.
We’ll cover tips in another post about how to write a winning cover letter.
Find an internal champion
Even though you shouldn’t forget all the tips mentioned above, the best way to get your resume positively reviewed is having a personal connection to the hiring managers.
In many cases, the difference between getting your resume reviewed or not is simply based on whether you know someone close to the hiring manager. I like to call these people “internal champions.”
These are people who, other than yourself, have an interest in having you hired. Such a champion can be a friend with close ties to the hiring manager who also values your relationship, an employee who could get a referral bonus, or a headhunter who is paid a commission if you are hired.
Before you submit your resume, do the required due diligence and find out who can send your resume to the hiring manager directly. Find out as much as you can about the company, its hiring manager, and the recruiters for the position, then use what you’ve found to support your social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, alumni, etc.).
Getting Past the ATS Robots: How to increase your chances of an interview
A few years ago, I learned one of the most important lessons in my life when I was rejected by a 200-pound bouncer at a trendy nightclub in Puebla, Mexico. As a single man, it felt really chastening to have my dreams of meeting beautiful women shattered at the gate. What are a person’s chances if they can’t even get through the door? I later figured out that I didn’t meet the dress code.
Often times, job seekers are in a similar position and don’t get invited to the interview (or dance, in my case) because of rejections by an invisible, digital bouncer named “ATS.” The Applicant Tracking System is a recruiting software that, among other things, is used to screen and rank candidates.
Unfortunately, it’s not always able to properly read resumes submitted online because they haven’t been “dressed up” or formatted properly. As a result, many resumes are rejected at the gate and never meet a human eye. Most HR departments use ATS software to sort through the overwhelming number of resumes received online.
We will spend time identifying the most common reasons for resume failure (RFRF) and rejection by the ATS as well as review practical tips to help make your resume ATS friendly.
RFRF1: ATS doesn’t appreciate style
The ATS has poor taste when it comes to resume “fashion.” Therefore, the stylistic additions that would usually make a resume standout to a human reviewer will unfortunately work against you.
A key tip to making your resume ATS friendly is to avoid graphics, layouts and exotic fonts. As a rule of thumb, the barer bones the resume is (stylistically speaking), the easier it will be for the ATS. Think simple, plain text document rather than a PowerPoint document. Use common fonts, such as New Times Roman and Ariel instead of the fancier Corsiva or Syncopate.
RFRF2: Resume format is not compatible with ATS
Many ATS systems misread resumes in the PDF and HTML format and, as a result, will discard them.
Always use Microsoft Word. Avoid saving your resume in HTML or PDF formats, because text cannot always be properly extracted from PDF documents. It’s best to use Microsoft Word or to save your resume as a plain text document instead.
RFRF3: ATS cannot read tables, fields, headers and footers in Microsoft Word
Tables, fields and footers keep information organized and tidy to the human eye; however, they get scrambled and become unreadable by many ATS systems. For example, data in the leftmost column of a table may appear at the top of a converted resume or could even become scrambled, and page numbers may show up in the middle of the page.
This doesn’t mean your resume can’t look somewhat presentable. When it comes to formatting, use tabs instead of tables or columns and capitalization instead of common header terms and consistent fonts. Always start resume sections with capitalized terms and put them on separate lines. For example, you should put the various sections (such as job objective, work experience and education) on separate lines, as shown below:
It’s smart to put your contact information at the beginning of your resume in an unformatted fashion, like this:
1200 Harker Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
To conclude, here are three best practices and resources to help get your resume past the ATS and land that coveted interview:
- Customize each resume with targeted keywords to match the job description
- Always have two versions of each resume: one for online submissions and another to respond to email requests
- Use resources available at www.jobscan.co and www.sovren.com. Input your resume to ensure that it is ATS friendly.
Author, Career 3.0