Crafting a resume always a challenge and it’s even more so when attempting to out think the Sky-net style gatekeepers that seem hell bent on screening out applicants. But before littering your document with a kaleidoscope of keywords in an effort to beat the bot, consider these tips.
- Be Specific: Compare your resume against the details listed in the job description and use the employer’s exact words to describe your accomplishments.
- Front Load: Yes, it’s helpful to have keywords sprinkled throughout the document, but that’s a time-consuming proposition that would have to be edited for each role. Instead, craft a resume body complete with compelling metric-driven proof points, then ensure your professional summary section lines up with their top needs.
- Don’t Rely on Abbreviations: Even the latest applicant tracking systems (ATS) have intake limitations. To reduce expulsions, spell out majors, certifications, and industry specific abbreviations that may get muddled in translation.
- Go-old School: Playing the key word game can help prevent you from being unfairly screened out. However, getting screened in once your resume hits human hands is far more important. That’s where you should spend the lion share of your time. Once you’ve optimized your resume, try to circumvent the process by connecting directly with influencers in the target organization.
Using keywords to best the bot will help you survive the landslide of resumes a hiring manager receives for each role, but it’s pales in comparison to a human connection. Sure, savvy hiring managers will rely on ATS outputs to a degree, but an employee referral or personal connection is far more valuable. Remember search engine optimization (SEO) is good, but Savvy Employee Optimization is better.
And What of Cover Letters?
As organizations increasingly leverage automated processes and AI driven systems you might question the relevancy of a cover letter. But it’s their rarity that gets them noticed while allowing you to do two critical things:
- Highlight a point of distinction that might not be apparent on a resume. For example, maybe you are a finance professional who has significant presentation experience. This X-factor can set you apart from others who have similar traditional skills.
- Demonstrate your ability to write: This is a critical skill for many jobs and one that is rarely, if ever, tested. A cover letter can showcase how you will represent the employer.
Of course cover letters also display a sense of pride and politeness. Simply including one will set you apart in a sea of sameness regardless of what the bots have in store.
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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto