Companies increasingly rely on software to sort through applicants, which is why it is essential to tailor your résumé to ensure it makes the cut. Applicant tracking systems sort, scan and rank applicants by looking for keywords in applications. Although these programs can save time and money for employers, about 60% said such tools cause them to miss some qualified candidates, according to a 2016 survey of 1,200 job seekers and managers by CareerArc, a human-resources technology company, and Future Workplace, a research firm. Here’s how you can make sure your résumé stands out to robots and humans alike.
1. Use your résumé to play up your achievements.
A common mistake job seekers make is believing a résumé is a recap of your career, when in reality, it should convey what you have accomplished, says Christy Noel, a career expert and author of “Your Personal Career Coach.”
“I always say, spend less of your real estate describing your job, and more time describing your results,” says Ms. Noel.
6. Display your information clearly for skim readers.
Most recruiters spend just a few seconds skimming through a résumé—with an average in one study of 7.4 seconds.
To have the best chance of making an impression, ensure your job titles, company names and dates of employment are easy to read. The sections of your résumé should be adequately spaced, too, says Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder and director of Brooklyn Resume Studio.
7. Make sure your format passes the robot test.
Structure your résumé to meet the requirements of an applicant tracking system to give yourself the best chance of having it reach an actual human. Ms. Leavy-Detrick suggests the following:
- Optimize keywords. Use the same words and language that are in the job description. For example, three different companies might describe the same role as “programmer,” “developer” or “software engineer.”
- Use a straightforward format. Avoid tables and text-based graphics, which might not get picked up by a scan of the résumé. Sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica are also best to ensure readability.
- Think about order. When formatting each line item of work experience, list the company name first, followed by the job location (city, state), your job title, and your start and end dates. Some résumés can get lost if the dates are listed before the job title.
17. Proofread and double-check the formatting.
You may be eager to send your résumé or submit your application, but you should take the time to first check for typos and grammatical errors. You could also have a friend or family member look over it. When you are checking for errors, be sure to double-check the formatting. Sometimes the spacing can get thrown off when you save the file, so check how it looks as a saved document and, if you can, save it as a PDF before sending.
18. Make sure the saved file name includes your name.
Make less work for the hiring manager by including your full name in the file name of the résumé document.