Making a resume that helps get you an interview, is one of the key things you need to do to secure a role.
So the question you need to ask. Are you getting calls from your applications, this is the key to help you know if your resume is helping you secure an interview?
It may seem pretty obvious to say that your resume is critical to landing your next role, but how can you effectively highlight your strengths, skills and experience on a document in order to secure an interview? Sometimes it can feel like an endless cycle of submitting resumes, checking your inbox and waiting for a phone call. Due to modern recruiting methods, recruiters and hiring managers are becoming more and more reliant on Application Tracking Systems to efficiently organise job applications into the “progress” pile, or “reject” pile. But what exactly is an ATS looking for, and how do we fall into the right category? With a simple polish of your resume, you should sail right on through initial screening algorithms. Let’s look at what’s required…
A simple format
As tempting as it may be to express your personality on a document through creativity, resumes are more difficult for a hiring manager or ATS to read when you play around with the design. Any fancy formatting is likely to be lost when scanned, stemming from tables and text boxes to images (and yes, this does include your personal photo). Similar to a human, the ATS will scan from left to right and top to bottom, so keep that in mind when you’re formatting your resume. All information should be in a simple and logical order, with no surprises or confusion as to where the information can be found. We recommend a clean, well-structured resume that is chronological, functional and in a Microsoft Word format.
Positioning your experience
The purpose of your resume should be too not only showcase your past experience, but demonstrate how that relates to your future and where you’re planning on taking your career. If you’re looking to make a career transition into a field that you don’t possess direct experience in, it is especially important for you to focus on your transferrable experience. You want to position yourself for the role you’re going for. Analyse the job description to identify the key requirements and responsibilities. Do you have experience in that area? Great – list it. And make sure under each job you’ve held; your most relatable experience is at the top.
Wording is key
So, how do you identify which keywords relating to your current or desired industry should be included in your resume? Start with the job description you’re applying to. Your resume should be optimised with applicable keywords and action verbs to reflect your skills and experience, and of course, your suitability to undertake the role. To increase the chances of your resume matching available positions through ATSs, try working in the keywords throughout your document without regurgitating the job description. It’s obvious to a recruiter when you’ve included a keyword because it’s simply in the posting, but position that keyword around your accomplishments to provide them with a context.
Showcase your achievements
By listing specific accomplishments on your resume, it can illuminate your strengths and talents to hiring managers and recruiters. Whether you have exceeded sales growth or earned an award, the reader is intrigued to know what value or results you provided the company in a quantifiable manner. While many educational, professional or personal achievements can strengthen your resume, it’s important to avoid over-exaggerated or unnecessary achievements. Focusing on your most recent professional achievements will illustrate what you can bring to the team and why you are the best candidate for the role.
The power of soft skills
Knowing how to utilise keywords in a resume can often seem challenging, and slighting boring, but don’t throw in flat, overused words to describe yourself. While an ATS will match your application with skills listed in the job description, there will always be a human doing the final screening. If they detect that you’re using key skills to score points, it may reflect negatively on your application. Think about using statement or facts from your employment history to demonstrate how you have developed that particular skill. Be selective in deciding what soft skills truly reflect your capabilities; hiring managers and recruiters want evidence to solidify how you are what you say you are.
Filtering your experience
Listing all of your experience since you first stepped into the working world may be a little excessive, especially if you started working many decades ago. You’re likely to find that your recent experience is the most relevant and valuable, so focus on this to demonstrate your capabilities and strengths. If you’re applying for roles across different fields, it’s a good idea to have different versions of your resume with a tailored experience to give you the best possible chance of securing an interview. This may seem time-consuming, but it will make the difference between going in that “progress” or “reject” pile.
When it comes to creating an ATS-friendly resume, humans are always looking for the same things so the chances are, you’re optimising your chances of success. A resume is your personal brand on paper; showcase your strengths, skills and experience to stand out from the crowd!