Mona Abdel-Halim is the co-founder of Resunate.com, a job application tool that tailors and optimizes your resume for a specific job. You can find Mona and Resunate on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
You filled out the job application, updated your resume and clicked “Submit.” But as the days or weeks pass, you never receive a phone call or email from the employer. What happened?
Unbeknownst to many job seekers, a whopping 72% of resumes are never seen by human eyes. Why? Well, employers large and small now use applicant tracking software to parse the information from your resume and map it into a database called an ATS (applicant tracking system). From this information, the system will assign you a score based on how well you match the job the employer is trying to fill, and then rank and sort all candidates. Naturally, the potential employees with the highest scores move on, while others are left in the dust.
Wondering how you can optimize your resume and rank highly in the employer’s ATS? Here are several tricks to improving your resume’s score.
1. Use Language from the Job Description: Look through the job listing to determine the skills required. Identify industry terms, buzzwords and jargon the hiring manager uses most frequently in the description and incorporate these words into your resume when possible and applicable — the ATS is looking for these keywords.
2. Get Rid of Images and Graphics: Remember, the ATS is breaking down the information you’re providing and sorting it into different “buckets.” It will not be able to read or understand an image.
3. Choose Fonts Carefully: Stick with standard web-safe fonts like Arial, Georgia, Impact, Courier, Lucinda, Tahoma or Trebuchet.
4. Don’t Hide Keywords: Think adding in a bunch of keywords in white text is the best way to rank highly? Think again.
5. Get Rid of Irrelevant Information: Only include past positions and skills that are relevant to the job at hand. Irrelevant positions just end up as filler — a waste of valuable real estate on your resume.
6. Don’t Use Any Special Characters: Standard bullets are fine, but other characters (such as arrows) can cause issues that could prevent the ATS from correctly parsing your information.
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