A frustrated job seeker told me, “Shoot the Resume Robots! Can’t they see I’m qualified for the job?”
Although I shared her pain (computers have dehumanized the job search), I had to laugh. Her statement conjured up a vision of steely Resume-bots sorting through mountains of professional resumes and asynchronously reporting, “Applicant does not quality … does not qualify … does not qualify.” It had all the makings of a job seeker’s nightmare, or a B-rated movie.
For better or for worse, computerized resume screening tools are here to stay. While Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) make employers’ lives easier, they pose yet another obstacle for job seekers to overcome. What can you do to satisfy the gatekeeping robot? The answer is simple. Feed the computer the data it craves.
1. Make sure you meet the minimum requirements for the job posting.
If the job posting states, “Applicant must have x number of postgraduate credit hours” or names a minimum of specific courses required in order to be considered for the position, and you have none of the coursework, do not apply for the job. It will save you from receiving a computer-generated rejection notice.
If, however, the job posting reads “an applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in a particular field or equivalent work experience” and you lack the educational requirements but have plenty of relevant work experience, then apply for the job. Send a resume and cover letter showing that you have the exact skill set the employer is seeking and why you would be a good fit for the position.
2. Pack your resume with truthful accomplishment statements that correlate to the job description. Focus on core competencies (think technical skills) that relate to the job posting. Omit irrelevant information. Customize each resume to the specific job posting but state genuine facts.
Front-load your accomplishment statements with quantifiers such as revenue gains, amount saved, or percentage increases in productivity. A job posting for a senior supply chain director asked for strong analytical and negotiation skills.
The job seeker listed “Global Distribution & Transportation Networks” and “Vendor Sourcing & Contract Negotiations” under his professional skills then went a step further to describe several accomplishments that showed his analytical and negotiation skills in action. However, he made the mistake of placing the results last.
Instead of writing, “Developed tools, processes, and reports used to analyze international small parcel shipping costs and led negotiations with carriers, which saved $1.2 million in small parcel shipping expense across all business units.”
Front load the quantifying terms. Rewrite the accomplishment statement to read, “Saved $1.2 million in small parcel shipping costs across all business units by analyzing international small parcel shipping expense and negotiating discounts with carriers.”
Do you see how moving the quantifier to the front of the bullet statement and shortening it makes it more powerful?
In summary, submit your application to those postings where you meet the minimum educational and experiential requirements, pack your resume with quantified accomplishment statements, and watch your interview rates soar. Satisfy the gatekeeping Resume Robots by spoon-feeding them the precise data they crave.
© 2014 Sharla Taylor – All rights reserved.
Sharla Taylor is a multi-certified career coach, executive resume writer, and published author. Through her company, Written by a Pro, Sharla has been helping executives and mid-career professionals land great jobs with better compensation for more than 20 years.
She approaches her business from a Christian perspective. Her favorite Scripture is Matthew 19:26 "with God all things are possible" and this Bible verse is the inspiration for the Mission Possible Career Coaching Program.
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Austin Farmer, graphic artist, is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design where he majored in Industrial Design and minored in Architecture. Austin creates marketing materials for businesses and uses his artistic and musical talents to enhance the worship service at Compassion Church. He also draws exquisite portraits! Austin's favorite Scripture passage is Isaiah 12:2.