There is no such thing as a perfect resume. Regardless of how much time you spend rewriting every word, there is always something that can be improved.
Luckily, your resume doesn’t need to be perfect in order to help you land jobs. Creating an “optimal” resume is enough to ensure your application slides past the applicant tracking system (ATS) and into the hands of a human who has decision-making power.
Consider these tips and tricks for creating an optimal resume that gets results:
Pick the Right Resume Format
Not all resume files and formats are created equal. Many applicant tracking systems are better at parsing information from some files than others. If your resume isn’t in an optimal format and file type, the ATS may incorrectly parse and store your information, or worse, not decipher it at all.
For the file type, it is best to stick with a Microsoft Word .docx file. Older versions of Word might not be parsed correctly by the ATS. The next best bet is a .pdf, but be aware that some applicant tracking systems, when tested, have incorrectly parsed .pdf files. If the employer asks for a specific file type, defer to their instructions. If you want to create an optimal resume, be as particular about your resume as an applicant tracking system will be.
Use a Layout That Gets You Past the ATS
The layout of your resume also matters. Certain resume formats are easier for applicant tracking systems to decipher, increasing the odds that your resume will rise to the top during keyword searches. If the ATS can’t understand the content of your resume because of its formatting, your resume might never appear in a hiring manager’s search results. For more help with resume formatting, check out these 20 ATS-friendly resume examples and customize one.
Make the Content of Your Resume Ultra Relevant
“Content is king” is a common phrase in the content marketing industry, but it also applies to job seekers. While your skill set is vital to determining how qualified you are for a job, your ability to convey that skill set is even more critical. Intelligent, capable candidates get overlooked when their resumes aren’t optimized for keywords and thus don’t appear in ATS search results.
ATS-friendly resume content conveys that you are a solid fit for a particular role and enables you to rise to the top of ATS search results. Read the job description and compare it to your resume. Add missing qualifications to your existing resume if you can. Once you have a draft ready, then you can begin working on the details.
Focus on Keywords
To optimize your resume keywords, match the wording on your resume precisely to the job description. Close enough is not sufficient in this case. An ATS can’t pick up on nuances or variations like a human can.
Watch out for these critical resume keyword mistakes:
- Singular and plural versions of a word. Match your phrasing to the job description.
- Acronyms and abbreviations. Align your phrasing with the job description, or include both the full and shortened versions. For example, use “Master of Business Administration” and “MBA” within the body of your resume. This ensures you have a chance to rank highly in the ATS regardless of how the hiring manager searches.
- Titles. If a potential employer is searching for software developer, and the only title you have held is software development engineer, you may not appear in the ATS searches for your desired position. Without falsifying your title or duties, try to match the wording the resume uses. One way to do this is to include your revised title in parentheses immediately after your original title.
If you match the wording of your resume to wording of the job description, you’re more likely to appear in keyword searches based off the employer’s preferred terms. Run a free comparison using Jobscan’s resume analysis tool to see what weaknesses your resume might have. Keyword optimization doesn’t have to be a painstaking manual process; optimization tools enable you to quickly optimize your resume.
Taking the time to create an optimal resume can have a significant impact on your job search. With more and more companies using applicant tracking systems, beating the machine is vital to landing an interview with your future employer.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at JobScan!