When you apply for a job online, more often than not, a computer will read your resume before a human does. The first thing to get past is a parser. The parser will read through your resume, identify and separate each section (education, skills, background) and upload it into the company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Applicant Tracking Systems help companies sort applications, filter out spam, and often, do the first round of rejections using the information that the parser picked out.
While it can seem confusing, it’s important to remember that computer screening is usually pretty straightforward. More often than not, it is just matching the job description with your resume. This means that there are a few simple things you can do to dramatically improve your chances of getting your resume in front of a person.
First, the basics.
Your resume format is more important than you think. Some formats are simply too confusing for computer screening systems, so ensuring your resume format is simple and straightforward could help you get more responses. When your format is correct, a parser will be able to identify all the great info in your resume. Here are the main things to be aware of:
Next, consider your language.
When it comes to the language on your resume, there are really two things we want to bring to your attention, matching the job description, and strong, relevant language.
Clarity and confidence is key. Both computer screening systems & humans prefer a strong language.
Lastly, be thoughtful about your effort.
The job search is hard during the best of times. You can do everything right and you will still experience rejection. We have found that most people who apply for a job online simply don’t hear back. In our 2020 survey, most professionals reported that they found their last job via a referral, co-worker, friend or family member. You don’t have to have a massive professional network to have an in. If you see an interesting job posting, go to that company’s LinkedIn page to see if anyone you’ve ever worked with works there. Or perhaps someone who went to the same school as you. It doesn’t hurt to reach out and let them know that you’re considering applying for a job at their company. Most people are more than happy to help. Ask them what it’s like to work at that company, what they wish they’d known when they started, etc. You can also reach out to the poster of a job opening on LinkedIn. This is typically a recruiter, and they appreciate active outreach from candidates.
When it comes to applying online, we typically find applying on a company website directly is a bit more effective than applying on a third-party job board. The exception to that rule being third-party job boards that offer a niche high touch experience (like a search firm or Meytier, of course).
In conclusion, keep at it. Job searches are hard. Optimizing for computer screening is important, but at the end of the day, it’s only one part of your job search. Read our top interview tips here.
Have questions about this article or the job search? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org