Want that job? 3 steps to impressing the robot that might be reading your resume


If you’re looking for a job, you may know that even the best qualifications might not be enough to get your foot in the door. For a lot of job candidates, their biggest obstacle is their resume. And many job seekers may not realize it, but their resumes are increasingly being processed by robots.

Now, when we say robots, we don’t necessarily mean the “Danger, Will Robinson!” kind of robot from Lost in Space. We’re talking about highly specialized computer programs. These programs are designed to register keywords interspersed throughout your resume that match with a particular job’s description, tasks and requirements.

Looking for a job? Robots could be reading your resume – here’s how to beat them

How you express yourself in a resume is arguably as important as what you say in an interview, since it’s usually the very first impression a company gets of you. Because hiring managers and recruiters don’t have the time to meticulously look through hundreds of resumes, they employ computer systems that sift through your application.

READ MORE: 5 reasons hiring managers haven’t called you back

Robots reading your resume: Applicant Tracking Systems

Some of the most Popular Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) include Taleo, Bullhorn, Greenhouse. The thing is, no two ATSs are the same. They all have different strengths and, yes, weaknesses, so it’s good to know about them before applying for a job.

About 95% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS software in the hiring process, according to TopResume.com. What was designed to help mega-corporations work through thousands of job applicants has been adopted by companies of all sizes. It is estimated that around 75% of resumes are never even seen by humans.

The bots, on the other hand, see the overwhelming majority of resumes, and cast most of them into the abyss. But it doesn’t have to be this way…

Here’s how to write a robot-proof resume

  • Use exact keywords: If the job description says “Calendar Management” and you put “managed the calendar” on your resume, that may or may not register with the robot. Be precise. The job description is written to weed out those who don’t pay attention to detail. For best results, your resume’s wording should match the keywords in the job posting exactly.
  • See if you can find out which ATS is being used: When applying for a job, you can sometime see which ATS software is being used. You should do a little research on each platform to get the best results for your resume. When deciding which format to submit your resume, some “robots” may be a bit more quirky with PDFs than Word documents. Some ATS platforms will give extra points for keyword frequency, while others will penalize it. These are things you need to check before you submit.
  • Hire a resume writer: There’s nothing wrong with investing in your job search or career change. Hiring a resume writer will not only raise the stakes for you, but it will allow an expert to craft the perfect resume tailored to your strengths, as well as the computer system’s sensitivities.

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