How to Optimize a Resume for Electronic Screening

by Mary Frederick

Electronic Screening

Times have changed when it comes to the process of finding a new job. It used to be that you handed in your resume to a hiring manager, and the process continued from there. These days however there is sophisticated software, known as “Applicant Tracking Systems” (ATS).

Wikipedia defines an “Applicant Tracking System” as “a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs… In many cases they filter applications automatically based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience and schools attended.”

Before your resume ever gets into the hands of a potential employer, this software helps to decide if you are a good fit. This means that you need to write your resume taking into consideration the fact that it may go through an ATS.

This may sound complex, but with the right keywords and optimization efforts you can do it. Focus on what’s really important about you as a candidate. Stay away from fancy resume layouts and go back to the basics of what a resume should be about, which is to present your qualifications in the best light possible.

Here are some tips to help you write your resume:

Use Some of the Language Found in the Job Description

As you write your resume, put the actual job description in front of you as a point of reference. Take some of the keywords and language used in the job description and include them in your resume (insofar as they are applicable to you). Since the ATS will be scanning for keywords, the job description is a natural starting point.

You want to show that you are a “match” and utilizing the job description is the best way to achieve this. Not only will this ensure that the ATS picks you, but it will also put you at an advantage with the hiring manager by making the connection easier between your qualifications and the requirements of the job.

Don’t Try to Dress Up Your Resume Too Much

This is not the time for fancy or unusual fonts. Don’t use tables, graphics or images. Stick to the basics in terms of layout for your resume. Let your experience and accomplishments speak for themselves.

Dressing your resume too much makes it harder for the ATS to read the content of your resume. The ATS may skip right past your resume if it cannot read the information that your resume contains.

Take the Time to Customize Each Resume That You Send Out

Do not send out the same resume for every single position that you apply to. Instead, customize your resume for each and every position. This is where the job description and incorporating keywords can help.

Although this is more work, taking the time to customize your resume will help you stand out with the ATS by having the right keywords, but also with the hiring manager by showing that you are truly interested in the position.

Resume writing is hard work. However, it’s worth spending the time to improve your resume as much as possible. A good resume will help you find work faster and may even help you get a better salary. Remember, the time spent on improving your resume is not wasted. It’s an investment in your future.

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