Let’s face it, peppering your resume and cover letter with terms akin to “result-oriented team-player” is not going to cut it these days. First of all, this tactic is used by so many job seekers, that it won’t help you stand out from the crowd. Secondly, relying on overused terms and recycled phrases tells the recruiter that you’re lazy, unimaginative, and unable to identify more meaningful aspects of your professional brand to present to the potential employer.
Clichés don’t make your resume more powerful, but here are some strategies that do:
What: Tailoring employment documents to the desired position
Why: To demonstrate your motivation, initiative, and willingness to positively contribute to achieving the employer’s business goals.
What: Using hard data, facts and numbers
Why: To prove you are who you claim you are and build credibility with the potential employer. Do emphasize your accomplishments instead of rambling about your duties, and don’t be shy to state how many people you’ve managed and how much money you’ve saved in your previous workplace.
Why: To rank higher in the search results and to show you stay in the loop on current industry developments. But put them in context.
What: Words that project confidence and competence
Why: Weak phrases present you as indecisive and unprofessional. So drop them and opt for more meaningful alternatives.
The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a piece of sophisticated software used by many large companies to collect, sort, screen, rank and track candidates that respond to their vacancies. If you’re shooting for a role in an organization with a couple hundred employees, chances are, they are using some sort of an ATS to sift through the resumes and cherry pick the best matches. Only these select few are then assessed by a Hiring Manager. So if you’ve spent days, weeks, or months sending out resumes to no avail, here is the harsh truth: no matter how well-qualified you are for the position in question, your application might have been cut by the ATS.
That, however, is no reason to get discouraged. Though all recruiting systems are different, there are ways to make your resume more ATS-friendly, thus, dramatically increasing your chances of getting invited to the interview. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind!
Getting noticed by a potential employer is very similar to getting your website to show up on the first pages of Google search results. Your key to success lies in making your application documents relevant and easy to find. That way, when an HR looks for a professional in your field by browsing LinkedIn, employment websites, or even their company’s internal applicant database, your name shows up on top of the list. How do you accomplish that?
First and foremost, pack your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile with buzzwords. Read your target job description carefully and incorporate the main concepts and phrases into your application documents. This strategy also applies to situations where you respond to job ads via any kind of automated system on the potential employer’s or recruiter’s website rather than by sending a good old email. And do try to include both abbreviations and full versions of key concepts, as you never know whether an HR will be typing in “SMM” or “Social Media Manager” in the search field.
If you are posting your resume on an employment website, such as Monster.com, and are targeting several job titles, create a customized version of your profile to match each alternative. That will dramatically improve your chances of being noticed amidst hundreds of your competitors.
And finally, take care not to go overboard with optimization and make sure you can back up each and every one of the claims you make on your resume.