From resume screening tools to Robot Vera, an AI-based software technology that helps recruit and hire humans, it’s safe to say that the robots have become a necessary evil that job seekers need to contend with. Automation and machine learning have become a recruiter’s best friends, helping to sift through hundreds or thousands of applications. However, for an applicant the influx of tech can be overwhelming, conjuring up images of a robot apocalypse.
But before you panic or head for a nuclear bunker, there are a few things you can do to optimize your resume to get beyond the wall of bots and into the hands of a human recruiter. We spoke to Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, a resume writing service that helps you craft a winning CV.
Here are her top tips for crafting a bot-beating resume:
1. Know Your Opponent
While it’s not likely that you’ll know who else is vying for an open position, recognizing what you’re up against is key. In the job application process, you are up against the ATS. “ATS stands for applicant tracking system. In short, an ATS is a piece of software used by employers to scan and rank the online job applications they receive for their open positions,” says Augustine. “These bots were initially created with large organizations in mind, which needed help sifting through the thousands of incoming applications they received on a weekly basis. An estimated 95% of Fortune 500 companies currently use an ATS to manage their applicant tracking process. Today, this software has become popular with employers and recruiting firms of all shapes and sizes.”
Think of ATSs as the gatekeepers to your dream job. You’ve got to get past them first in order to succeed.
2. Word Choice & Keywords Matter
Using action verbs like “outperformed,” “solved,” “led,” and “delivered,” are essential when crafting a resume. These compelling action verbs powerfully show off what you did in each of your roles. However, when it comes to the bots, you’ve got to kick things up a notch.
“The most important element — beyond formatting your resume so it can be accurately ‘read’ and parsed by the ATS — is keyword optimization,” says Augustine. “This is how the applicant tracking system determines if you possess the necessary qualifications to be considered for the position. In addition to listing out a specific term, be sure to also include any common abbreviations to cover your bases.”
However, Augustine warns against keyword stuffing or packing your resume and cover letter with buzzwords. “If the ATS can’t sift through the B.S., I guarantee the recruiter or hiring manager will — and then promptly dismiss your application.” Instead use keywords sparingly and intelligently.
“To make sure your resume is compatible with [any ATS] system, incorporate the best keywords throughout your resume 2-3 times, with at least one of those references falling within your Work Experience or Education section. It’s one thing to state that “SEO (search engine optimization)” is among your core competencies, but it’s another thing entirely to show where in your employment history you leveraged that knowledge to add value to an organization.”
3. Keep It Simple
While beautiful resume templates, custom cover letters, and charts may wow a human recruiter, chances are that the ATS bots won’t appreciate the extra effort. Here are Augustine’s fast few tips for keeping it simple:
- Use a simple, clean design. Embedded charts and other images, custom font styles, and intricate bullet styles will get scrambled or simply skipped over when the ATS scans your application.
- Avoid submitting your resume as a PDF unless the system specifically lists PDF files among the acceptable options. Some ATS software scans a PDF as though it were one big image, essentially missing all the information contained in your resume. Stick to a Word document that is compatible with all ATS systems.
- Don’t include important details like your contact information in the header or footer. Again, not every ATS is able to read the information placed in these sections of a Word document.
- Most importantly, customize your resume with keywords that represent the required soft and hard skills found in the job listings. Incorporate these terms throughout the resume, particularly in the “Key Skills” and “Work Experience” sections.