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Is your resume robot ready?

Mar 25, 2019 by Lucy Singleton

Most of my new clients tell me that they just can't understand why they aren't getting shortlisted for roles that they could easily do. What we usually find on review, is that their skills match is not always so obvious on paper.

Whilst it's nice to imagine that your application will hit the hiring manager's desk where they will carefully and thoroughly read through it, the reality couldn't be more different. When you apply for a job so will hundreds of other people, many of them not even in Australia. That's why companies seek to make the preliminary screen as efficient as possible, often using automated systems. These systems are becoming more and more efficient with leaps in Big Data and Natural Language Processing, and are also fundamentally changing talent search. (We'll cover implications for Head Hunting and Talent Search in the next Blog.)

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) mean that your application may never be read by a person.

The software searches the content of the application and "ranks" the top talent for the job.They are used by loads of organisations including Government Departments, Banks and major Companies to streamline recruitment processes.

Where an ATS system is not in place, a human will attempt to do the same job, in 10-20 seconds.

Your application will likely be quickly screened by a recruiter or member of the HR team- someone who is probably also resourcing a large number of other jobs at the same time and who doesn't have deep technical knowledge of your skills. That's why it's important to ensure that you also make it easy for them to find what they're looking for.

So how do you get past the keeper? It's all about targeting your resume to the job specification and very clever use of keywords.

1. How to optimise your "score" when a robot is reading your resume.

The software is going to rank you on "potential fit" so you need to get as many points in the bank as possible. A quick reminder that you shouldn't ever aim to 'trick' the system by being misleading, this is about presenting your background in the best way.

1. Make your background experience fool-proof by using generic terms

The computer will check for your degree, and for your work experience by "reading" the information and dates. So if you have an unsual degree title or job title you can help the robot by putting more common terminology in brackets.

(for example: " Connection and Engagement Lead" ( Relationship Manager) Or:

"Bachelor of Science" becomes

Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management (HR) (Adult Education Major)

If the job spec. calls for more than 7 years experience in Management positions make sure you tell this story effectively by ensuring the word Manager appears with relevant dates equaling at least 7 years.

2. Demonstrate Proficiency

The software has strong capability in processing natural language. So if a job spec says "highly experienced in xyz skill" it's important to ensure that appropriate adjectives are used to share depth of experience and help you score points in those areas.

For example when you're outlining your relevant "keywords" don't just say "Bookkeeping" say something like:

Proficient in Accounting Software (Xero, Xero Tax Agent, MYOB)

3. Match Keywords

Make sure the keywords from the job spec. are all covered off clearly in the resume, which means you may need to 'translate' terminology from one company to another.

For example 'Value Chain Management' may be better as P&L Management.

4. Add your own relevant keywords

Don't forget other relevant experience that makes you uniquely suited to the role. Things like being fluent in Mandarin (if relevant,) experience managing teams, reporting to a Board or managing Customers at a high level. Many people sometimes forget key things like sitting on Advisory Committees or Leading Teams.

Sometimes this can be coded into the algorithm, other times it might help you to tick more boxes if a human gets their hands on your resume!

5. Don't get lazy on the application form, expect duplication

Applications using ATS software often ask you to go onto the platform, set up a password and apply through their portal. Sometimes this can be long and arduous as it asks for you to type key "resume" details such as 'Qualifications' and 'Work Experience' in their fields. My big tip is to fill in every field perfectly. I have had several clients tell me they got frustrated and wrote "refer resume" and none have ever had an interview. These applications can take hours so allow plenty of time.

How is it different when you're trying to grab the attention of an actual person ?

There's another whole BLOG in this area but in theory it's all of the above concepts, as well as HOW you present it.

1. Make it easy to skim read

  • Use a clean layout and easy to read text
  • Use bold and bullets effectively throughout the document.
  • Try to keep it below 4 pages and focused on the past 5 years

2. Make sure the first page contains all essential information in the job spec.

Expect that they will only skim-read page one. Make sure you tick their boxes. Key information includes:

  • Relevant Title
  • Career Experience (companies, titles and dates)
  • Education (if relevant)
  • Specific Skills and Experience Keywords

Make a cultural fit connection

  • Use effective language throughout including an introductory profile that gives them confidence in your capability and makes them want to meet you.
  • Check your spelling and grammar thoroughly as it indicates your quality of work.
  • Expect that your "first interview" will be your LinkedIn profile, so ensure that works hard for you. Don't apply for a role until your LinkedIn is also perfect.

So how many resumes do you need? Generally one base one, but you will need to vary it slightly to optimise it for each application. You can keep your core "story" the same but tailor the keywords to suit the specific role.

It means that each application takes considerable time, but will help your hit rate and speed up your search in the long run.

It can be overwhelming to process all of this, but it all increases your chances of success. If you're too busy or need a hand we can help. Our services cover both writing the core Resume/LinkedIn and general application support, which means tailored applications for each role you want to go for.

For more information please contact Lucy on 0409 152 415

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