Justin Olsen: Five tips to ensure your resume passes the test

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 10, 2018 at 2:00 PM

I grew up around Wilson County most of my life, and I know how difficult it sometimes was to find quality employment while living in a smaller community. 

In the heart of Wilson County sits Lebanon, a quaint little town about 30 miles outside of the Nashville metropolitan area. As of September 2017, Lebanon had a 2.7 percent unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this is a strong improvement compared previous years, there are still a lot of jobseekers who are competing to those top-level positions, whether they are employed or not. 

Some people are looking for a better opportunity, while others may just be seeking a career change to try something different or more challenging. Career fields with higher competition usually reap higher reward. That is why it is imperative to have a resume that is top-notch to set you apart from the competition. 

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, and with the increasing cost of living in the Nashville area, professionals and executives are moving to areas such as Lebanon to live the “quiet life” while still living close enough to comfortably make the daily commute within 35 minutes, give or take. However, this does come with a slight disadvantage. 

Most big companies use what’s called “applicant tracking” technology, or applicant tracking system databases, to parse candidates’ resumes and filter out the ones who are not qualified for their job openings. The software automates the process to handle a large volume of applications coming in daily. It also helps human resources to organize candidates more efficiently and accurately before and after the hiring process. 

Therefore, it is extremely important that you make sure your resume is up-to-par, not only visually for the human eye, but for the applicant tracking system that will most likely scan your resume for certain keywords that are relevant to the employer’s requirements of the job. 

Here are five tips to ensure your resume passes the test for applicant tracking systems:

• Narrow down your career path and stick to one industry. Sometimes this requires having multiple different resumes if you are targeting several industries – having a resume tailored toward each. This ensures that your resume will be relevant and contain the right keywords for which the applicant tracking system database is looking. 

• Do not use fancy formatting with a lot of tables, special characters or special fonts. Doing this not only makes your resume difficult to read, but it can also scramble information in certain databases that are incapable of parsing data properly from these types of resumes. 

There is a good balance that can be achieved. It is important to not only make sure your resume looks good and is well organized, but to ensure it is compatible for ATS scanning.

• Try to avoid using “I, my or me” statements and speak in a third-person narrative. This reduces the amount of words the ATS has to scan to achieve its goal, and it also sounds better when reading it. 

• Always include your address and contact information no matter what you read online. Applicant tracking systems use what’s called Boolean Search for zip code radius and location. If you omit this information, the ATS may filter your resume out before it even has a chance to make it to the next stage of the review process. 

• Never include irrelevant information or keywords. This is the most important tip. Relevancy is key, and goes back to the first point. Make your resume targeted, use industry-specific keyword phrases and never include information such as hobbies or interests on your resume. This information is not relevant and has nothing to do with the job requirements that were loaded into the automated software that will be processing the data from your resume. 

These systems work just like a search engine such as Google, where the user puts in certain keyword queries into the system, and the data is extrapolated from the internet. The same concept is behind resume parsing, where the employer loads certain keyword queries that they are searching for in a candidate. Then, your resume is scanned to see if it contains those phrases.

I hope this helps get your resume on the right track, and please feel free to check out more of our tips or get resume writing help at cpresumes.com.  

Justin Olsen is founder and CEO of Careers Plus Resumes, an online resume writing and career coaching service based in Tennessee.

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