Getting a good job can be challenging but one of the biggest hurdles is simply getting the interview. Without a great resume that is effective your application is dead in the water. Most large companies, roughly 90 percent, use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to work through applications. Only a select few resumes will be read by the company that is hiring.
This means that you have to be clever. Whereas in the past, you could rely on a well written and professional looking resume, this is no longer enough. It is import to be aware of the applicant tracking systems and how they work. That way, you can create a CV that is more likely to stand out from the rest.
Here are some tips that will show you how to write a resume that will get you an interview.
Although many of the tracking systems are highly sophisticated and use machine learning and artificial intelligence, amongst other things, one of the most basic functions they perform is a keyword search. If you don’t have enough of the relevant keywords the system is looking for it will simply ignore your resume. You might be a great fit with the relevant education and experience but if the screening system does not pick that up you are unlikely to even get an interview.
The main function of the screening software is to narrow down the pool of applications to those most likely to be a good fit. Most positions and companies receive an overwhelming amount of applications and screening software is used to streamline the process and narrow the field.
What this means, however, is that you have to play by the “rules” of the system in order to get noticed and land that interview.
You want to try and anticipate what keywords will be relevant and then, without making the information false, try to use these words where relevant and appropriate.
These tips will help ensure your keywords are noticed and picked up by screening systems:
Only include relevant experience
The more specific and relevant the experience is to the position you are applying for the better. Leave out older or irrelevant experience. You need to fine-tune your resume according to the desired position.
The software will look for preselected keywords that pertain to the position so experience and keywords outside of that will only serve to water the resume down.
This makes it a bit of a challenge for those early in their career that do not have a wide range of experience. In this case, ensure your resume will get your point across and paint a picture of who you are and what you have achieved.
Start with your strongest keywords
You want to ensure your resume will read well to a human as well as a machine. Fortunately, platforms such as LinkedIn have made this fairly normal for us. This means that a concise style, such as that used in LinkedIn, is fine to use in a resume. You can create a short summary of your history, experience, and achievements.
Even if someone is reading the resume normally these bold keywords are a powerful way to get the attention of the recruiter.
Try to apply keywords form the job description when explaining your experience
The easiest way to determine the top keywords to use is the job description itself. Use the keywords from there that are relevant and applicable to your experience. You might have relevant experience but if you do not match the keywords the hiring managers are looking for your resume could well be overlooked.
Remember that these people and companies normally receive a massive amount of resumes. Anything you can do to make yours stand out and appear relevant will help. You have to catch their attention, whether human or machine. Using relevant keywords is one of the most effective ways to do this.
Hobbies can tell a story about you
Many people say that this aspect is no longer relevant in modern resumes but this is not always the case. While the resume is scanned for important keywords it will, if it passes the early stages, ultimately be read by a human. They are looking for more than just skills and experience.
As much as you need to adapt your resume for the way modern applicant tracking systems you still need to consider the human element. Likability is a big factor once the field has been narrowed and your hobbies and interests will say a lot about you as a person.
You want to really put yourself across in a positive light so go for interests, hobbies, and achievements that are unique and represent your
Use a quality format
There is some debate around the best format and a lot will depend on the position and level you are applying for. There is no perfect answer but the lengthy resumes of the past are no longer relevant. Keep it succinct, in a logical order and to the point. Don’t ramble on about irrelevant information and do highlight the positives. Always keep keywords explained above in mind.
Use a consistent and professional font and a structured layout. There is no excuse for any spelling or grammatical mistakes so check carefully. It is often a good idea to get a third-party to help you double check as you will often miss your own errors.
Your choice of font is extremely important and again, the best word to describe the ideal resume is professional. Do not use any quirky fonts and do not mix your fonts. Stick to traditional business fonts. You also want to keep margins, spacing and all other aspects of the format consistent and businesslike.
There are a number of templates one can use just ensure you select one that is concise, professional and in line with the type of position you are applying for. Always remember that you are writing for machines as well as humans.
Anyone displaying a lack of professionalism and expertise in creating their resume will not be seen in a good light. Again, you could have all the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience but if your resume format is off it could cost you the interview.
Remember that, just like in the interview, first impressions are everything. If you want to have any chance of landing the interview you need to impress with your resume. Yo need to make an immediate and powerful impact within seconds. A poor format or any errors could instantly destroy a good impression. You need to put effort into your resume as that is your first impression with the hiring manager.
Keep personal information short and to the point
While this section is important the hiring manager does not need to know every aspect of your life. Stick to the basic important facts and keep it neat and brief.
Length of Resume
This is another widely debated topic and again, there is no perfect answer. Many people say a resume should never exceed one page. The main rule is to keep it to the point and concise. If you have vast experience, particularly in technical fields, you might well need 2 pages. The main point is not to ramble on about irrelevant history or experience.
Have a powerful cover letter
Anyone neglecting their cover letter is missing a great opportunity. In some instances, the cover letter is even more important than the resume itself. Many hiring managers will simply pass on the resume if it has a poor or no cover letter. This is really your main opportunity to make that all important good first impression.
It is also a great opportunity to personalize your application to make it relevant to the position you are applying for. While your resume is slightly harder to tweak and make specific, the cover letter gives you a chance to state why you are the best person for that specific position or company.
Your resume is critical but a good cover letter with relevant information and keywords can certainly help to boost your chances of landing that interview.
Ensure the resume flows
Building on from the above concepts, it is important to ensure the resume has a good flow. It should be in a logical order and should develop as it is read. Again, it helps to have someone to read over your resume to check this or you could follow a good template.
Make use of power words
In addition to the important keywords we have discussed above, you also want to incorporate action verbs and power words in your resume. Stick to the facts but do not be too humble. You need to create a positive impression and these words can help you achieve that.
These words will grab attention and help to make your resume stand out from all the others. This is important when hiring managers are sifting through a large number of applicants. All you need to do is give some thought to your skills and experience and be a bit creative. Don’t exaggerate or lie, simply be more thoughtful and creative in what you say. You have to make an impression.
Break down each line and look for the most impressive words you can use. Select those that have the most powerful impact. Every sentence counts on a resume so make it work for you. You want to use words and language that is compelling. This is important throughout the resume but particularly in the first section.
Never overdo this as it will be obvious and make your resume look like a sales pitch. It is all about balance. It has to read naturally while still promoting you.
Use specific examples
If you have achievements and accomplishments in your work history put these on your resume. Be clear and specific. Use actual numbers where you can. This will let you explain your achievements without bragging or coming across as arrogant or boastful.
Ensure your resume is complete
Any omissions will be spotted and probably cast doubt over your resume. Ensure you do not leave relevant information out, particularly when you are listing experience chronologically. You want to list your work history in reverse chronological history and the numbers need to add up.
If there are periods that are irrelevant than keep it concise but do not leave gaps. The same applies to your education and training. There are checklists available to ensure you do not leave anything off your resume.
Stick to the truth
If you exaggerate or lie on your resume it is very likely to come back to haunt you. This could cost you your job or have other serious consequences. It is fine to highlight and emphasize the positives but stick to the truth.
The important thing is to show effort, expertise and care with your resume. This will show the hiring manager that you are competent and passionate. Mistakes will probably result in no interview. Also, keep applicant tracking systems and keywords in mind as these are extremely important.
There is a lot to remember and take care of but you cannot expect to even get to the interview stage if you do not put the hard work into your resume. Once you have it down correctly, you still need to change it slightly every time to make it more specific and relevant to the job you are applying for. This will greatly increase your chances of getting an interview.