The Life of Your Resume! Part I

By David Brophy, Director of Recruiting

Have you ever wondered what happens to your resume when you submit it to a company? Ever wonder why no one calls you when you think you are exactly the right person for the job? You may be the right person for the job, but in reality, the hiring manager never saw your resume and probably never will. Drafting your resume correctly will get you past obstacles you never knew were there and get you that interview!

You already know this, but you don’t have just one resume. Every time you apply to a position you are making small changes to highlight where your skills match the job description. But how you do this is the key. When you apply directly though a company website a few things happen that will determine where your resume ends up, how you rank and if your phone will ever ring.

The Dreaded Parser

You may be under the impression that when you submit a resume, a recruiter will look at it and shoot it off to the hiring manager.  Not so fast! When you come across a posting on a job board or submit directly to a company site, your resume must be parsed, or loaded, into the companies ATS (Applicant Tracking System). The parser’s goal is to take the information from the resume and populate fields in the ATS (Name, address, job history, etc). If you’re lucky, the company will actually index your whole resume meaning everything in the resume itself is searchable. But, some companies cannot search the whole resume, only the information it’s able to parse. What does this mean to you? You better have a clean, well formatted resume that is not overly wordy. Less is more!

A successful resume will be on a Word doc (although parsers say they are able to load multiple formats, Word is most successful). You should have a single first and last name, long names confuse the parser and can land you in the unsuccessful pile (more on that later!). Include a phone number and a professional email address (not and leave off your home address (you don’t want assumptions made by your address). Also, leave out an objective, that is so 20 years ago!

If you had an unclear or made up fun title, change it to something practical and standard. In addition, limit yourself to only a few bullets of specific accomplishments, not your duties. If your title is Accountant or Java Programmer, we pretty much know what you do. Your bullets need to show your greatness and successes! Additionally, you need to clearly bullet your technical skills and systems (e.g. JavaScript, AJAX, MS SQL, Great Plains, SAP, FASB 109, SOP 97-2, etc.). When a recruiter does a keyword search, this is what they are looking for.

Now about that unsuccessful pile. Sometimes a parser gets “stuck” while reading your resume and puts you in the unsuccessful or junk box. This often happens for a few reasons:  your resume has been faxed to often; when you scanned it into PDF it became blurry; or the brutal truth, your resume is an unclear mess! If you are lucky, someone at the company will manually “push” your resume in. Unfortunately, more often than not, that person just deletes that folder to clean it out. So when they say they will hold onto your resume for future openings, don’t hold your breathe.

The bottom line is keeping your resume short and specific. No one has time to read about all you have done, they just want to see if you have the skills that warrant them picking up the phone to call you. You have two obstacles from the start: first, you need your resume to parse when you apply; and second you may have a sourcer who just wants to quickly connect the dots of your skills to the job description and pass you along. If they can’t see you have the specific skills in the first 15 seconds, they are moving on. Stay tuned for more articles on the three basic resume layouts and how to show up first on a Boolean search!