Uiba is helping our clients and career seekers finally move beyond résumés and ATSs (applicant tracking systems). But if you are submitting your résumé online to a company who’s not yet working with Uiba, here are five things you should be aware of:
1st – ATS SMASH!
If you’re applying to a large organization in either the private or public sector, and you’re planning on making your résumé ‘standout’ by using graphics, pretty fonts, split page formats, etc., PLEASE STOP! This is a huge mistake. I can’t emphasize this enough: HUGE. FREAKIN’. MISTAKE.
Most companies have what’s called an Applicant Tracking System or ATS as its commonly known. This is software, often very old software, that scans résumés and other applicant profile information for internal recruiters and hiring managers to use during the hiring process.
Basically, the ATS scans the résumé and anything on the page it can’t capture properly will be left blank, return errors, or be rejected altogether. Either way that résumé disappears down a blackhole.
So if you’re submitting to a corporation, large company, or government agency, the most boring résumé style is the most successful. That means stick with Arial, Courier, or Times New Roman fonts and stay between size 10 and 12 with black or dark gray (or grey if you’re in the UK) letter color. No pictures or symbols, including accent marks, umlauts, graphemes and the like, even if they’re part of your name. Keep the sections to the basics: Professional Experience, Education, Skills, etc. Reverse chronological is usually the best format. 1 page only. It’s not an autobiography so don’t go over 1 page and don’t make it a two sided document.
If you’re submitting to a plucky little startup or NGO or something similar, it might warrant being a bit more flamboyant with your résumé, but again – if the submission is being done online there’s a good bet an ATS is involved. Plus, after decades of use humans are trained in reading the standard résumé format, which is why LinkedIn’s profile is laid out the way it is: experience, education, skills, etc.
One last thing – please save and submit your résumé as a Word doc file if possible. Unless the application specifically asks for a PDF do NOT submit your résumé as a PDF because most ATS systems can’t read PDFs and they’ll be rejected.
2nd – Spelling. Kind of Important.
Please spell correctly. Seriously. If there are spelling errors a number of the ATS systems (and most recruiters and hiring managers) will mark the résumé as ‘fail’ and blackhole it.
For many people English isn’t their first language but fortunately there are plenty of spell check options to use these days and both Word and Google Docs have them built in.
For those who are dyslexic, I know this can be a brutal exercise because a number of my family members and friends are dyslexic. Thankfully there are apps out there specifically built to assist you.
- Here’s a decent one: http://www.ghotit.com/
- Here are a number of chrome extensions: https://www.noodle.com/articles/7-google-chrome-extensions-that-help-students-with-dyslexia
- If you’re really feeling old school there’s this little gem: https://www.amazon.com/Neo2-Alphasmart-Processor-Keyboard-Calculator/dp/B00T0ZG06O
3rd – Keywords…
Keywords are simply words that are considered important by the hiring company and thus used to filter résumés. These could be school names associated with education experience (Stanford, Harvard, etc) or company names associated with professional experience (Google, Facebook, The White House, etc), or skill/ability words (Python, or certified public accountant, etc).
The problem with keywords is they are a pretty stupid way to assess if someone is qualified or not. Unfortunately, even though they yield poor results most companies still believe they’re the easiest & most effective way to screen candidates. So do recruiters. So does LinkedIn.
Some people try to fill their résumé with keywords to fool their way past the ATS. This strategy works with some ATS systems until a human sees it and realizes what’s up at which point the résumé is thrown away and the next one is picked up. A common scam a couple years ago was filling up one’s résumé or LinkedIn profile with a number of minuscule, white letter colored words to ensure the résumé or profile was flagged as relevant regardless of what the actual experience and education on the résumé were. Again, this works until the hiring manager sees it then it’s dismissed out of hand.
If you’re going to try to optimize for keywords, use the ones in the job description itself and realize that the ATS is probably just adding up all the keywords in the résumé and comparing it with those in the job description and general keyword index and ranking accordingly. (side note: this can have some tragically hilarious outcomes – the guy who worked at Harvard Donuts gets through while the valedictorian from another school doesn’t)
4th – Be Relevant Or Begone
If you’re using the same résumé with each job you apply to, you’re doing it wrong. The job descriptions, though usually painful to read, contains much of the info you need to shape your résumé. Ensure sure you’re qualified for the role as best you can and submit accordingly. If you’re applying to 2 different roles, you’ll probably have 2 different résumés. If 10 roles, 10 résumé. It sucks, but that’s the process – hence why we’re trying to change it.
Please note: job sites that say ‘click once and apply to a 1000 jobs’ are essentially scams for just this reason. Your résumé is never going to be read. Sorry.
5th – Keep At It!
Make sure you follow up with the organization you submitted to about a week or so later because often times the résumés get misrouted or lumped together with 1000 other ones and everyone is busy so the résumés aren’t top of mind. So following up via email is recommended.
For most of us, applying for jobs is not the most pleasant process. It’s hard work, it takes a great deal of time, and it’s easy to become discouraged. So please make sure you’re keeping healthy: sleeping, eating, and exercising regularly. Don’t isolate yourself, spend as much time with supportive friends and family as works for you and keep at it. Perseverance wins every time. If you’re reading this you’re educated, have enough money to own a phone or computer, and know how the internet works. I promise you there are good jobs out there for you, it just takes some time to find them. We hope to be able to make that process much quicker and much better in the coming months.
Either way – stick with it! We believe in you!