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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Jun 23, 2012

Robots and Resumes

Maybe you’ve heard that a tailored resume is one of the best ways to grab a hiring manager’s attention.

It’s a fact that the one-size-fits-all, generic, general resume doesn’t cut it. Not anymore. Remember, you’re facing a pool of hundreds (and potentially thousands) of competing applicants whenever you apply for a job.
Because of the increasingly high numbers of applicants, more employers rely on resume screening software; robots. It pays to know how an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) works so that you can tailor your resume and cover letter to the job you're applying for. 

  • Your uploaded resume is run through a parser, which removes the styling from the resume and breaks the text down into recognized words or phrases.
  • The parser then sorts that content into different categories: 
    • education, 
    • contact info, 
    • skills, and 
    • work experience, etc.
  • The employer's desired skills or keywords are matched against the results from above.
  • Your resume is then scored on relevancy—using semantic matching against the employer's search terms and your years of experience.
It's important that you include relevant text in the body of your resume. Instead of simply cutting-and-pasting keywords from the job description; employ a strategy. Remember, other savvy applicants are likely using the same keywords in their applications.

Don’t just narrow your focus to keywords. A sophisticated ATS goes beyond the keywords to look for related terms (not just graphic design, but also “creative cloud”, print, web, motion, logo, etc.). *sites like Monster.com and others use technology to help employers find the best candidates (see Monster's concept-matching resume search).

Your areas of expertise. Ensure that your resume matches the special categories for the job you're applying for, use a bulleted list to organize your areas of expertise. If you opt for generic categories, make sure that you add some descriptive text. Here's a simplified example: 

 Prioritize your keywords. Begin by auditing the job description for primary and secondary keywords to include. Priority words are used in the title, job description, and in bulleted criteria lists. Secondary keywords include mentions of the industry (women’s health, international football, micro brewing, etc.), direct competitors, and industry qualifications (memberships, key training or software). 

Consult an insider. It can’t hurt to get input from a friend within the company or in the industry—go straight to the source and ask them if they could either look over your resume or suggest what skills they look for in a candidate.
  • Another option is to contact someone in a position similar to the one you'd like to have—tap your social network and ask questions.
Sprinkle liberally. ATSs factor in the length of experience. So, it's also important to place those important words, throughout your resume, in all jobs where appropriate. Order your bullets in descending order of relevancy to the job description.
Use social networks to enhance your resume. More advanced ATSs add other features to check on you. Reppify, for example, checks your social network posts, and use of sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Be sure that what you post in public fits with what you say on your application.

Your resume should cover all of the listed job requirements. The ultimate goal is get your resume in the hands of a real human being. These tips should also increase your chance of getting past live screeners and hopefully land you an interview.