May 09, 2016

A Checklist for a Digital Resume Tune-up

In today's wired world the vast majority of large and medium sized corporations use some form of automated resume screening. Even small firms may purchase resume screening services from vendors who will collect, sort, rank and reject or select their resume applications. A generic  name for this automated software is Applicant Tracking System or (ATS). This type of software automates resume screening  and other processes that are related to the job recruitment process.

You can be confident a corporation is utilizing an ATS system  if you are directed to load your resume and it is parsed by a computer to auto-fill in many of the requested informational questions on their digital job application form.  The job application directions may then tell you to review the data fields that have been filled by auto extracting data from your resume.  Not all ATS systems use the technique listed above, some just parse the data and if you created your digital resume correctly, the key fields will be filled in and if not, then most likely you will receive a rejection notice.  Finally your completed digital job application form is screened by a computer against the employer's desired education level, work experience,  skills and keywords.  All job application submissions for the job you applied for are ranked then compared, with the highest ranked moving forward to have a human review the trimmed down list of the top ranking job applications.

Now that you know who will be the first one to read your resume, make sure you compose your digital resume for that audience.  The following checklist can help prevent your resume from being screened out for  simple things like formatting or the lack of job specific key words.

Checklist for a Digital Resume

1. Don't submit a generic resume. Tailor each resume to each open job position.

2. Use the key words or phrases that match the job position description.

3. Avoid using graphics, the computer is blind and can't see the pretty  colors.

4. Keep away from submitting your resume as a PDF. Errors may result from the ATS software's inability to convert the PDF format correctly.

5. Keep to the basics. Use terminology like "Work Experience"  instead of "Career or Professional Experience".

6. Avoid putting a date at the beginning of the sentence for your work experience.  Help the computer screener by listing the company first, your title and then the date or date range.

7. Pass up on the use of fancy or non-standard fonts and don't use the smallest font size to squeeze in more information.

8. Steer clear of using headers or footers. At best the screening software will ignore them and worst case,  reject the entire resume.

9. Don't try to hide key words, it is an old tactic that is not looked on favorably. The old trick was to insert key words into your resume using  a "white" font color which would make them invisible to a human but not to a computer.

10. Review each requested piece of information on your job application before submitting.  One blank field is enough to create a rejection.

Hopefully by following the checklist your digital resume can make it past the automated screener and into the hands of a human.

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