The Key To Getting Your Resume Noticed

Photo (cc) by flazingo_photos

Software programs “read” resumes at 72 percent of companies, sometimes before the resume ever is read by a hiring manager, according to CareerBliss.

That means your resume might never reach a human if the software can’t read it or misdirects it.

As CareerBliss puts it:

More than ever before, employers and recruiters are turning to applicant tracking systems (ATS for short) to help them sort, weed and keep track of the overwhelming number of applications they now receive for every job position advertised. …

The downside of this is that a machine will most likely read your resume before it reaches the hands of a human — and in some cases, your resume may never reach a real person at all. A resume may get rejected purely because the ATS can’t read it properly, due to formatting errors, confusing wording or simply an incorrect format.

The key to getting your resume past the ATS and getting it directed to the right human? Use a simple two-step process to learn how the software works.

Step 1: Understand ATS

The applicants in a machine-sorted pool who are called in for interviews are the applicants scored highest by the software, CareerBliss says.

This process starts with a machine receiving your resume and a program called a “parser” that converts your resume to plain text.

Then, the system processes the plain text, filing it under sections such as contact information, education and work experience.

A hiring manager searches the ATS for keywords for a particular position, and the system selects the resumes that best match those keywords.

In short, keywords are important if you want to work for a large employer likely to use an applicant tracking system, or if you have a LinkedIn profile. (Searching the social network functions similarly, whether you’re an applicant seeking a job or a hiring manager seeking an applicant.)

Step 2: Master keywords

CareerBliss says:

The best written cover letter, or the resume with the best designed professional template simply don’t make the cut any more if you don’t include the right keywords in your resume.

A fancy resume design might actually hurt the chances of your resume reaching a person. And crafting keywords that will be “read” by a software program can be tricky in itself nowadays.

CareerBliss offers these tips:

  • Don’t “keyword stuff”: Keyword stuffing is essentially working the same word into as many parts of your resume as possible. Like modern search engines, applicant tracking systems recognize – and may penalize your resume score for – this practice.
  • Make semantic matches instead: Semantic matches are related words that tell an applicant tracking system that you have actual experience. For example, if you’re applying for a digital magazine editor position, sprinkle your resume with words related to the field: editing, editorial, edit, proofreading, writing, spelling, AP style, SEO, content, content management systems, picture editing, photos.
  • Add your top keywords into each prior job on your resume: Software will look at how often a keyword appears in your prior jobs to assess how many years of experience you have for a skill.
  • Don’t copy-paste from a Word document: Word embeds invisible formatting code into your text, and that code can render your resume unreadable to an ATS. You can remove the code from your text by copy-pasting all the text into Notepad or a similar text-only program, reselecting it, copying it, and pasting it back into the resume document.
  • Keep it simple: Images, special characters, fancy formatting (like tables, shading, text boxes, borders and separators) – as well as typos – can also confuse an applicant tracking system.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Purchases That Will Make You More Productive
9 Purchases That Will Make You More Productive

These Amazon products can give you an extra edge at work and other parts of your life.

10 Mistakes That Cost You Money at Warehouse Stores
10 Mistakes That Cost You Money at Warehouse Stores

Wholesale clubs might have great deals, but these mistakes will cost you.

60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It
60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It

Millions of people overlook this potentially potent condition that tends to strike women and older adults.

8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper
8 Secrets of an Expert Thrift Store Shopper

Here’s how a veteran thrift shopper scores the best deals — and turns a profit from them.

3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web
3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web

If you’re already doing it anyway, why not get rewarded for it? Here are three great opportunities.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Things the Pandemic Is Making Obsolete
10 Things the Pandemic Is Making Obsolete

Even if a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered tomorrow, it’s unlikely we will ever return to these ways of life.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.