PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN TWO PARTS ON TALENTZOO
As a professional in an ever-evolving world of technology, it is absolutely important to keep abreast of changes that occur within the standard operations of society and hiring processes. Not many realize that with the evolution of information systems, most hiring processes are initiated, if not fully executed, online. Therefore, hiring managers and executive decision makers are eliminating the number of resumes that they are scouring each week in order to streamline processes and maximize productivity in the job space while keeping staffing down to a minimum. Let’s take a deeper look into this science and discover how to get past all systems filters to at least be considered for the position that many are applying for.
Did you know that as this World of Technology evolves, so does the way the business world approaches talent acquisitions and recruiting? Professionals aren’t just sitting back behind a desk glancing over resumes on a day-to-day basis. Time is valuable, and successful corporations are always looking for ways to cut back on unnecessary spending.
As mentioned earlier, many recruiters are more than likely sitting in front of a computer and pounding away at their keyboards, seeking out potential candidates that meet the specific needs of an employer. Whether it is a proprietary system hosted on internal servers or through a major job search platform, hiring personnel are able to search out the perfect candidate based on keyword searches. Often, more time is spent discovering which keywords directly meet those needs of an employer than sifting through a plethora of candidates that do not meet them.
As many job search sites and resume-writing services will point out, there is an algorithm that allows recruiters to search for who they want and to avoid those that they do not. This system is dubbed “ATS,” a shortened version of “Applicant Tracking System,” and it is what will make or break a candidate’s forge to the top of the figurative totem pole.
You see, per position a company seeks to fill, an average of 250 to 300 candidates are competing to be seen and invited for interview. Unfortunately for most, they will never be seen. The “select few” will be invited to join the hiring process and asked to report for interview. Believe it or not, many of the top professionals applying per position will actually be overlooked. Hence, these awesome candidates might never have their chance at a dream position and will remain in their current until they finally “hack” the system.
So, how do you hack this system? How do you rise to the top and become recognized as “cream of the crop?” This is simple. Treat your career path as a brand while showcasing brandYOU through the use of Internet Marketing techniques to enhance your presence in tracking systems. While ATS works slightly differently than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the core concepts are totally the same!
Similar to SEO, ATS seeks out applicants based on specific keywords. The more keywords match word for word, the better! The applicant will score a higher position within this algorithm. Unlike SEO, these keywords must be presented exactly as described by qualifying terms, as opposed to being strategized for conversational, organic placement and tone. Industry-specific terminology is highly encouraged. Resumes are expected to be matter of fact while engaging readers in a professional and narrative description of an applicant’s work history. This means that a phrase such as “preparation of slideshows” would hold little weight, if any, compared with “slideshow preparation.” It gets even more complex.
Because ATS seeks applicant achievement over duty, it would be wise to include the latter preceded by a strong action verb and a powerful adjective. Whereas one may include, “Engaged in slideshow preparation” on their resume, another may include “Developed and executed highly professional slideshow preparations.” Not only does the second choice include powerful descriptors, but it also shows process, ability, and to what quality. It also shows that it happened on more than one occasion, and therefore it was not a fluke!
While both verbiages may find themselves ranking higher within ATS than those without optimization, the achievement-based resume will soar much higher. Once these resumes reach the hands of the talent recruiters, which do you think will receive further consideration?
Keeping your language brief within a resume is the objective, but the manner in which this is done is also important. In marketing yourself, you have to sell your achievements by showing how even your performance of duties has made a difference. Your resume must flow smoothly in keeping a reader engaged. As a matter of fact, your resume must flow smoothly, because your resume will merely be skimmed the first few times that it is read. In keeping content mapped out and consistent, the layout must reflect what the body is trying to convey to your future employer.
Structure is equally important to the Applicant Tracking System. Professional profiles may or may not be read with the ATS — this depends on the complexity of the engine being used — but they must be present when distributing your resume to employers that do get to see your resume. Within each resume, it is highly recommended that one include a “Competencies Section” with word choices that must be completely spelled out at least once prior to abbreviation throughout the resume. This section also acts as a meta-tagged “keywords” section within SEO to enhance your resume’s overall potential. While many include these keywords in a section called “Areas of Expertise,” one should merely feel comfortable in their ability to complete duties found within.
Expanding upon the idea that layouts and consistencies are important for ATS and in mapping out your career, layouts keep resumes organized, experiences highlighted, and abilities grouped. It also helps ATS differentiate the content you are submitting, especially in the case of extracting information to a separate database. In a more traditional format, it leaves your resume more visually appealing, balancing out white and negative spacing, and allows your resume to be properly scanned over in the second round of the hiring process, therefore passing the “30-second test.”
In physical hiring processes, a hiring manager is apt to start at the expertise section, scan through previous employers, read your full education level, and then check out the rest of the resume. Sometimes, they go directly to education, skipping experience altogether, and continue to your affiliations and technical proficiencies. If they are intrigued, they will return to your biography, and then they will read to see if you are worthy of the position they are moved to interview you for. You want to draw eyes to each section of your resume and encourage them to actually read what is written there. Avoid typos and formatting errors. They aren’t read by ATS and can negatively sway the hiring manager to drop your resume into the garbage bin.
Speaking of the garbage bin, industry rules have changed. You do not need to have a “references” section in your resume. You can drop that in the trash. Because many people lie about references and have others lie for them, it has become an unnecessary part of the resume process. It also takes up space that you can be using for something more valuable. It is wise, however, to keep a reference sheet on hand if your future employer requests one. This also goes for project sheets, which outline project histories, portfolio pieces, and publications, unless you have a Curriculum Vitae (CV) resume type.
In creating proper spacing, keeping your resume to a proper length, and utilizing negative space, one must consider level of hierarchy. Although there is no limit to how much space is used in ATS, it’s important to understand that if you make it through the computerized process, a warm-blooded soul will be holding your resume in their hands. Length must be made appropriate to your level of hierarchy on the corporate ladder.
It is commonplace that professionals who have held tenure at a job site, entry-level personnel, and students may only detail their resume to one page. However, there are some entry-level personnel who hold hands with professionals of all industries that will find two pages tell a clearer story of who they are, whether they have summarized this or are providing quality content in enhancing their resume to meet specific job descriptions. Hiring managers find it acceptable for medical personnel, executives, and IT professionals to submit resumes at three to four pages.
Military personnel, medical doctors, and professionals in the scientific community are expected to have four or more pages of resume material. This is where special resumes are created, distinctly prepared by federal standards and in CV-structured layouts. Most resumes only include the last 10–12 years to compensate for age stereotyping hindrances in the hiring process. An undated summary statement below may be italicized to show evidence of a career journey and previous experience in correlation to older-yet-relevant positions held. Remember to present yourself as you want to be perceived. This is Branding 101.
While most resumes are lacking a graphic appeal, many new designs have found ways to give resumes a persona. After all, when looking at a resume, one becomes familiarized with the person that they are potentially hiring. Your layout will tell a hiring manager your level of expertise within the corporate machine. Graphic elements can hint at an “out-of-the-box” or innovative personality, highlighting your creativity. The problem, however, is that ATS often has a hard time reading graphic resumes, and while there are ways to get around this issue, most creative resumes suffer because some element or another is lacking in the process. Only a select few within the resume-writing world know how to get around this problem and can optimize your resume for discovery in ATS engines.
Finally, in marketing yourself through a resume design, one must be aware of engine capabilities. While .doc extensions aren’t often looked at as a “finished project” in a world where creating a .pdf document helps corporations protect against fraud and is accepted as official and polished, .doc extensions are the most acceptable form of submission in this day. This document type provides ATS with an easier means of extracting your personal information than do .pdf, .rtf, .txt, and even .docx.
Being mindful of your audience, keep both .pdf documents and .docs on hand at all times. After all, you may be submitting your resume directly to a decision-maker and should plot to appear as polished as possible. In the end, it all comes down to one thing: brandYOU. How are you marketing yourself? What observation of your character would you like them to experience?
Stay mindful of ATS when submitting resumes to corporate engines and job search sites, and remember, I am only a messenger of what experts have analyzed over the years and through experience. Good luck!