Before human eyes ever view your qualifications for a job, a computerized applicant tracking system examines your resume. The software analyzes the content of your document, compares it to the resumes submitted by other candidates and ranks you in a list up against other potential employees. Applicant trackers make hiring more efficient for large corporations, and they give job seekers the opportunity to optimize their resumes so these programs move the best candidates to the top of the heap.
Relevant Keywords in Context
Determine the right keywords to use in your resume, then keep these keywords in the right context. Do not sprinkle keywords into the document at random. Keywords must be next to the proper words and in correct order as if you read the resume yourself.
Job descriptions are the perfect place to find the right keywords. Look at the most important qualifications, and include these words in the right place within your resume. If a hiring manager needs someone who is proficient in Microsoft Office, can create regular press releases and lead a team of 10 people, those keywords should be somewhere within your resume.
Bullet Points in a Career Summary
Create four bullet points of your most important accomplishments, qualifications and skills at the top of your resume. Label this section "Career Summary" or "Personal Brand" instead of "Objective." These bullet points create a context for several keywords that an applicant-tracking system picks up as it scans the resume.
Cover Letters Add Keywords
Add more keywords when you write a relevant cover letter, especially when an application requires it. Sprinkle in some of the most important keywords with the cover letter along with your personal story as to why you are the perfect candidate for the job. The cover letter should introduce your resume rather than repeat any information in it.
Examine your resume very carefully, and correct any typos. Give the document to someone else to read, and make sure you spell every word properly. When computer software picks up a misspelled word, the program may reject your resume immediately simply because it does not recognize a word on your document.
Know Where to Put Things
Applicant trackers know where certain keywords should be in a resume. This software has the ability to find the "Education" section to find out what kind of degree you have. In the "Skills" section, the ATS could find out your proficiency in Java, written communication, lathe operation and typing speed. Put the keywords in the right places so the applicant tracker realizes the relevancy of the keywords.
In your "Work Experience" section, put your previous employers first before the dates you worked for them. Applicant trackers may reject your resume for being in a wrong format. Start with the employer name followed by the date, position held and job description.
If you create a normal resume with the right keywords, you could be successful at getting past an applicant-tracking system. Keep in mind that these systems normally come into play with large and mid-size companies. Small businesses may not use this type of software, and sometimes, a human touch is better than optimizing for a computerized system.
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