A Resume is the first impression you make, regrettably it is completely lacking in animation and it has to pass through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before it is read by a person. Every individual is unique and so is every resume but we are often united in common mistakes we make. These inadvertent errors and omissions can cost us our dream jobs and roles.
So, how do you make sure it gets to that point where it can score you an interview?
It’s not Customised
Think of your resume as a written version of you. To position yourself as the most suitable person for the job, make sure your resume contains everything that is sought in the job description. More often than not people update their resume and use one version to apply for various jobs. This alone differentiates resumes that are successful from those that are not.
Start by pulling together a list of the responsibilities, requirements, qualifications, core values and strategic pillars of the organisation. Invest time and attention in meticulously and effectively reflecting all of these in your resume. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a word filter system, you may not know what parameters it is using to shortlist resumes but by reflecting the job description and organisation’s values you will greatly increase your chances.
Too much Jargon
No matter how specialised or technical your line of work is, remember that the hiring manager is often the last person to read your resume. This means that you have to make a winning impression on everyone and everything that review your resume before the hiring manager. The problem of liberally sprinkling acronyms and industry specific terms ails many people and has an immediate detrimental impact on your likelihood of success. Moreover, it limits the audience of your resume by an enormous margin.
The best way to handle this is to write the first draft focussing on what you want to convey. When you start revising it, imagine your grandmother reading each sentence. Simplify every description until it would be 80% understandable to your grandmother. The understanding should purely be based on reading the written text, no accompanying explanation should be considered. To a highly trained individual this may seem frivolous and unnecessary but believe you me, this simple trick gets the resume through.
We are all immensely proud of the experiences and achievements that we document on our resumes. Therefore, we want to share as much about them as possible. Isn’t that natural? Well, think again. Once your resume has passed the Applicant Tracking System(ATS) it is most likely going to be ready by an HR professional coordinating the hiring process. At best, this person would scan each resume for 2 to 4 minutes to decide which one should be shortlisted.
Express your experiences in crisp, impactful sentences that each make a positive impression when read. Where possible, express the impact of your work in numbers and percentages. The best test of your work would be to ask a trustworthy colleague to read your resume. If you are able to hold their attention on the first page, you have done well.
Lastly, protect yourself from submitting a resume with errors by asking someone else to cast a fresh eye on it for you. Resume customisation should never be and never is a one and done process. Consider any time spent in your resume as time well invested.