How do you do tailor your resume for each job? Start by spending some time reviewing the job description for keywords, skills and themes and include them prominently in your résumé. But don’t just create a bulleted list of keyword accomplishments, such as an area of expertise, and key word-stuff your résumé. Instead, list keywords, backed up with proof of accomplishment and concrete examples of successes.
Be prepared to spend as much time as needed to complete the application process. Follow the instructions closely. Mistakes are costly.
“If there are questions as part of completing the ATS process, ensure you read them accurately before responding,” says Mayer. “It can be easy to misread, and thus respond incorrectly, to a knockout question, as you move quickly through an application.”
Here’s an example of how to highlight project management, sales and process implementation successes from Kevin Donlin (clientcloningsystems.com), author of the book 51 Ways to Find a Job Fast – Guaranteed!
First, here’s what not to write. These nonspecific achievements prove nothing:
- Managed numerous projects to success.
- Provided sales and customer service to house accounts.
- Wrote reports and correspondence for busy executives.
Now, here’s what to write. These specific achievements prove your skills:
- As project manager, managed 100% of 27 projects to successful completion in 2014, finishing an average of 10 days early on budgets ranging up to $256,850.
- Top sales achiever: Increased sales $456,000 in one year by managing and penetrating 34 house accounts.
- Process implementation: Saved $52,000 after writing 3 employee manuals that standardized operations.
The ability to tailor and match your résumé to the specifics listed in the job description is especially important for job seekers changing careers, or transferring skills to a new industry.
“A résumé for a print advertising salesperson, no matter how great the performance history, is not likely to impress a recruiter or hiring manager in the medical device, biotechnology, software and many other industries,” says Rick Deare (deare.com), president of Bloomington-based Deare Search Partners and someone who literally receives hundreds of résumés daily.
And even if you aren’t in IT, you need to include a “Technology Skills” section highlighting all programs you have used, focusing on the past five to 10 years and, more specifically, on the skills requested in the job description.
If the job description asks for a cover letter, include it. If it includes a request for salary requirements, add it.
“It is better to address any salary disconnect here before both parties spend unneeded time and effort only to find out that it won’t work late in the process,” says Mayer.
Importance of Employee Referral in an ATS
And finally, if you know someone at the company and can get a referral, do so. Many ATS systems have the ability to flag an application that is submitted with a referral and send it right to the next step — where it will be viewed by a human.
“Many recruiters and managers will tell you the employee referral is the best source for finding people – the premise being you will not refer someone you wouldn’t want to work next to,” says Foss. “Most Applicant Tracking Systems have the ability to flag referrals for recruiter review,” says Foss. “By being referred you now have the submission and an internal person to inquire as to the status.”
Stay positive – even if you don’t get through the ATS, your resume could still get noticed by an actual recruiter.
“Believe it or not, there are recruiters who read every single resume submitted,” says Foss. “The biggest thing is clearly communicating your qualifications and/or why you are the best fit for the job.”