If a new job is part of your New Year plan, it’s important to figure out how to get your resume past the automated filtering systems most companies use and into the hands of a real person. Make sure you at least cover the basics.
First, don’t get fancy with your formatting—you’ll have plenty of time to show your individuality when you’re in front of an actual person. This means use either a chronological, functional, combination, or targeted resume format. There are examples of each type readily available online. Skip the shading, graphics, text boxes, and tables. And make sure to leave your headers and footers empty—it can confuse certain tracking systems. You can tart up your resume and use that version for networking, drop offs, and smaller employers.
Use common headers and spell out all acronyms. Say “Work Experience” rather than “Achievements.” Include a summary of qualifications or a skills section (targeted to the specific position you’re seeking) as well as any additional education—especially if it’s from a top-tier school. It sounds crazy but even common acronyms like GE (General Electric) or MBA should be spelled out to make sure they get picked up.
Include the company name and job title before any dates (which you should include since many times systems look for a specific amount of experience). Employer designations are often the first thing systems look for when evaluating resumes.
Since the technology is constantly evolving, make sure you do internet searches for “applicant tracking system” to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Finally, while it’s important to be aware of screening technology, you can make yourself crazy trying to “game the system.” At the end of the day, people make the hiring decisions so remain active offline by networking, following up on leads, and proactively approaching desired positions.