Attaching resumes and filling out online application forms can be time-consuming and tedious. Jobseekers may have experienced getting automated responses and get little or no feedback about the application. Automated responses with no feedback create confusion or even dismay, which makes you ask yourself: “How does the resume-reading system work and how can you—as a candidate—improve on your resume?”
An ATS is a software application that helps us during the recruitment process from collecting, scanning, sorting, and ranking job applications sent to us by candidates. It is powered by a bot—or a software application that runs automated tasks—to sort out candidate applications from most qualified to the least qualified based on how these bots match a candidate’s resume to what is needed by the client company. So how do you create and update your resume that will pass through an ATS for higher chances of getting a call from a recruiter?
In a 2018 eye-tracking study conducted by Ladders, Inc., it was found that an HR recruiter initially skims through a resume for an average of 7.4 seconds. With hundreds of resumes coming from different platforms (i.e. Linkedin, Indeed, Jobstreet) to be screened on a daily basis, we, recruiters, resort to technology in helping us screen resumes faster. Most of us use an Applicant Tracking System or ATS, which aide in fulfilling processes for better candidate experience.
Here are five ways to improve your resume:
The simpler resume format, the better for ATS bots and HR recruiter
While creative layouts bring more personality and are visually striking– tables, charts, graphics (except for your resume photo), and custom font styles (i.e. Lucida Console, Franklin Gothic, Impact) may not be accurately processed by ATS bots. It is best to opt for a clean and crisp format design for better results.
- The more preferred format when uploading resumes into an ATS is a Word format. However, it is best practice to have two versions of resume readily available (Word doc and a PDF)
Use appropriate keywords related to the role you are applying for
The way an ATS bot scans through a resume is similar to how we read. The bots help us narrow our searches by finding keywords on your resume. Your resume gets better search rankings by using the right keywords.
- Avoid trendy-sounding positions, such as “Digital Marketing Guru” or “Tech Wizard.” While these sound catchy, it may have lower chances of matching roles and job levels.
Make sure to include your hard and soft skills and certifications
Skills in resume-building can be categorized into two: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are specific (or niche) to a particular industry, and that is teachable and measurable, usually acquired through training and certifications. (i.e. Agile, Search Engine Optimization, Lean Six Sigma, Foreign Languages, etc.). On the other hand, soft skills, or people skills, are non-technical and more interpersonal. These skills are usually associated with how you approach, build relationships, and communicate at work (i.e. teamplayer, problem solver, critical thinker).
- Keep and consolidate the certificates you have attained, and create digital copies.
- When writing certifications in your resume, include full name, its abbreviations, and the year you had it acquired. For example, it is best practice to indicate Certified Public Accountant (CPA) so that the ATS bot can both capture “certified public accountant” and “CPA” and properly tag your resume.
Quantifying your achievements by using metrics and KPIs create more impact on your resume. Instead of reiterating the job description, look into the accomplishments that are unique to you. by using metrics and KPIs.
- Avoid using redundant adjectives, and use numbers to make your achievements more visible.
Accomplishments are not the same as responsibilities
“Responsible for” or “assisted in” are some of the words that can denote your responsibilities. These responsibilities are not the same as your personal or team achievements. Remember, HR recruiters and hiring managers are looking for what you have achieved that help the organization. We are more interested in how you will be a great asset to the team through the achievements you have gained.
- Start with action-oriented words (i.e. spearheaded, developed), and add your achievement (i.e. built a system-based tool that boosted the team’s efficiency by 40%).
Your resume should best represent you and your career, and crafting it the right way will dramatically increase your chances of landing your dream job. As this is a meticulous and time-consuming task, it is best to update your achievements continuously, even when you’re not on the job hunt. Opportunities open every so often, and recruiters are constantly in the lookout for top talent. These tips and tricks of a well-written resume should enable you to become a top candidate of choice.
Here’s a sample of an ATS-formatted resume: