How to Tune Your Resume to Improve Your Chances of Getting It Seen

Tuning Your Resume

The Computer Merchant, Ltd. (Frank Anigbo)

Here’s a fact you need to know: the vast majority of job applications end up in a database of searchable resumes. And the chances of your resume being seen by a real person is directly impacted by the keywords content and file format of the resume.

In our last article we discussed The Resume of the Future and started off with an animated resume that didn’t fit recruiting methodologies of today. Unless the creator of that animated resume also created a more traditional, machine ingestible version, the odds it will be seen by a resume search engine isn’t good.

While this may sound like an unfortunate fact, the sheer volume of resumes from direct job applications and postings on public job boards, versus the fewer number of open positions and the speed at which hiring managers have to fill those positions, means that only machine-readable resumes have any real chance of being considered.

So, what does it take for your resume to get seen by a recruiter or hiring manager?

The answer to this question lies in the way modern resume search software works. Here is a simplified explanation to help you design a resume that search engines can understand and present to their human handlers.

The Resume File Format

Your resume must be presented to the search software in a file format that can be converted to plain text.

The best software can convert MS-Word and PDF formats to plain text but it isn’t a bad idea to just write a plain text version of your resume with no fancy formatting. In all cases, pictures and other graphics will make it harder for the parser to work with your resume so it is best to exclude them.

It is also a good idea to create a for-humans version of your resume that is formatted to be easy on the eyes; hiring managers still prefer well-formatted print resumes to plain text.

Breaking Apart Your Resume

When you post your resume to a job board such as Monster.com, Career Builder, Dice, etc. Or directly apply for a job on a company’s website by uploading or emailing your resume, the most sophisticated among resume search engines will break it apart into its logical components such as jobseeker contact information, work experience, skills, education, etc. Then the keywords within these components are indexed so that search software can find the resume using almost any word or phrase contained within the resume.

Section Titles

Make it easy for the resume parser by using section titles such as Contact Information, Work Experience, Skills, and Education to delineate the logical components of your resume. While the best resume parsers can figure out these sections without headings, they may still get it wrong and lose critical pieces of information on your resume.

The Importance of Keywords

We cannot overstate the importance of using the right words to describe your skills, work experience and industry. When we say “the right words” we mean the common terminology that everyone uses to describe the same thing. Don’t get fancy here. Be consistent since these are the words that recruiters will use in their resume database searches. Although the best search software links related keywords and will find your resume even if you deviate from standard, it is always best to stay consistent with everyone else.

Education Matters

For employers looking for college-educated applicants, a college degree listed on a resume has always been the easiest way to advance or reject a candidate. If you have a college degree or equivalent, be sure to include it in a section of your resume titled Education.

IT Staffing Solutions – The Computer Merchant, Ltd.

The Computer Merchant, Ltd. (TCM) is a veteran-owned, national provider of technology staffing solutions for commercial enterprise companies, systems integrators and public sector/government agencies.  We’ve been deploying top-notch IT and engineering talent for our clients in 48 states and across many diverse industries and cutting-edge technologies since 1980. What can we do for you?

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