Job seekers often wonder if their rejection is personal or due to the nature of job hunting itself.
On average, 118 candidates will apply for a job, but only 20% get an interview. For high-profile jobs hiring managers may look through thousands of applicants. Modern employers have used technology, like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), to make the hiring process more accurate.
ATS has made the need for customized and targeted resumes more apparent, and its prevalence makes it necessary for candidates to adapt. Here’s how to craft the perfect resume.
How ATS Works
Creating a custom resume that focuses on the skills and experiences needed for a particular job is never a waste of time. Generic resumes, even before ATS software, are less likely to earn candidates an interview. Now, it’s nearly impossible for a generic resume to convert into a job.
Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to scan your resume for keywords before it reaches human eyes. Writing a targeted resume gives you a better chance of being interviewed.
These free resume samples can help job seekers land their desired position regardless of the job market or niche. However, you’ll still need to further customize your resume to land the job.
How to Create The Best Data-Driven Resumes
A custom resume will set you apart from other applicants in today’s job market. You’ll also have an easier time ranking on ATS software if you adjust to its algorithm. Here’s how to do both.
Add Keywords Based on Job Description
Take a quick search for a job position in your field, and you’ll notice the same words or phrases come up. By searching “Accountant” in Google, you’re already using keywords to locate positions in your industry. ATS does the same with your resume but uses targeted keywords.
Targeted keywords are more specific. Instead of using “Bank,” an employer may use “Bank Teller,” “Online Bank,” or “Bank of America.” A company’s job description may use synonyms or industry keywords, like Financial Institution or cash handling.
Other best practices for keywords include:
- Use different suffixes for words, like “creative” and “creating.”
- Plurals almost always flag the same if they end in an “s.”
- Don’t oversaturate your keywords, or you may be blacklisted.
Modify your experience section and performance profile to the position you’re applying for but try to streamline your word choices. Using unfamiliar keywords may not flag the ATS.
Research the Company for Relevant Information
A job description alone won’t tell you everything you need to know about a company. Some businesses take their company culture seriously, so include keywords that call attention to its goals. Research an employer’s website and social media to get this information.
Once you know what your potential employer values, you can tweak your experience to align with their mission. For example, if their company culture praises teamwork, but you’ve mainly worked in a solo environment, use community volunteer experience to prove you’re personable.
Limit Creative Customization and Fluff
Unless you’re positive your resume will be seen by an employer first, it’s recommended that you stay away from adding tables, headers, footers, aggressive colors, fonts, or unknown resume formats. Too much creativity can overload the ATS and make your file into a jumbled mess.
As a rule of thumb, customize the following parts in your resume:
- Title: The first thing an ATS sees is a Job Title. Customize it to the industry.
- Summary of Qualifications: Summarize your resume based on keywords.
- Skills and Competencies: Mix and match verbs and nouns using a bulleted list.
- Skills First, Experience Second: Display skills above your work experience.
- Remove Fluff: Anything that’s irrelevant to your resume should be removed.
- Use Chronological or Combination Resumes: Avoid Functional.
You don’t have to throw out your whole resume every time you apply, but you need to be aware of sections and keywords that could disqualify you from earning the interview.