Editor’s note: Jonathan Ciampi is the president and founder of Preptel, a Danville, Calif., employment firm.
Did you know that, at most companies: computers read your résumé first, not humans; at least 75 percent of résumés are discarded for using the wrong words; more than 20 percent of résumés don’t make the list due to formatting issues; and only 1 percent of total applicants get an interview?
To combat this and drastically increase your odds, you should:
Not get overly creative: Perhaps counterintuitive, however, most large companies use software to filter résumés so your experience might be overlooked altogether if you try and get fancy and list your “Work Experience” as “Career Highlights.”
Not PDF your résumé: If you use PDF, you are missing job opportunities. Many people are using PDF as their preferred résumé format, however PDF is far more error-prone than MS Word, text or even HTML. If you are using PDF, you are likely missing out on many interviews because a hiring company is not seeing your whole résumé.
Customize your résumé for each position – it’s a MUST: Here is the hard truth: a single résumé will not position you properly for every job. We analyzed thousands of candidates and found a single résumé varies significantly from one job to another. Some candidates range from a job-fit rating of 9 percent to 73 percent. Since a résumé is one of your best assets, it is surprising so many candidates fail to tailor their résumé to each job. Regardless of how you get into a company, hiring companies will use your résumé to determine if you are qualified and a general résumé is a poor choice.
Always format your electronic résumé for automated recruiting: A human will not read your résumé until after it is read, parsed and classified by a computer. Even then, a human will only read it if it is a good match to the job description. It won’t matter how pretty you formatted your résumé or how well you write about your qualifications if the computer is unable to interpret the specifics.
Use keywords: Hiring managers receive a summary report generated by applicant tracking system (ATS) software that removes bias-causing problems, tracks EEOC compliance and performance and supposedly levels the playing field across the applicant pool. Regardless of how a résumé gets in front of a company – friend, job board, recruiter or online application – everyone goes through these ATS systems. Identifying keywords and knowing how you rank through ATS systems used to be guesswork but today technology tools are finally assisting job seekers in putting in the keywords that will help them get the job they want.