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Tune Your Resume to Get More Interviews

Updated on October 20, 2017
David Altfeder profile image

Dave has been a software development executive for 20 years. He's delivered three successful software startups, now working on number four.

How to Get Past Employers' Screening Software and Get Interviews

Congratulations! You've made the decision to pursue a better job. You spend hours writing a killer resume. You look at the job sites and find several jobs of interest. You apply online and send off your resume to each one. Then you wait. A few weeks pass and you haven't gotten a single interview.

You keep after it. You find more jobs, send off more resumes. Now you've sent 50 resumes, and still no interview! What could possibly be wrong?

The problem may be nobody has read it. You may be the most qualified candidate in the world, but unless a human being actually reads your resume you'll never get an interview. But why wouldn't anyone read it? Because today's corporations typically use software called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage job applicants, and the ATS typically ranks the resumes it receives. If the ATS gives your resume a poor ranking, you'll be low on the list and a person will never read it.


What You Need to Know About the Applicant Tracking System

Imagine you are the hiring manager or you're the HR manager. You post your job listing on the Internet. Thousands of people see it and the resumes come flooding in.

In the old days you'd have to read all the resumes. You'd sort the good ones from the bad, set up interviews with the good candidates and send rejection emails to the bad candidates. This was fine if you had just a few candidates, but it would take massive work if you got a large number of candidates. You could be tied up for days- nobody has time for that.

Because the problem was so great, a new category of software emerged: the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). With an ATS, the candidates all apply for the job online through a web page. The candidates are entered into a database automatically and they show up on your PC in a list. Even better, the list is sorted with the best candidates at the top. You don't have to wade through hundreds of bad resumes, you just start at the top of the list. There's a good chance you'll find someone good in the top 10 or 20 candidates. You can reject all the others with the push of a button. Your work has been reduced by 90%!

Getting to the Top of the List

If you don't get to the top of the list, you lose! You MUST rank high on the list or you won't get the job. You can do it- if you understand how the ATS works.

The ATS ranks resumes using keyword matching. It reads your resume and compares it to the job description. If your resume matches the job description closely, you'll rank high. If it doesn't, you'll rank low.

A great example of keyword matching is Google. You enter a search term (the keyword) and Google returns the sites that match it best, sorted by how well they match. You're trying to do the same thing- match the keywords.

The problem is, it's very difficult to match your resume to the job description by hand. First you need to identify the keywords in the job description. Then you need to make sure your resume uses not just those words, but the phrases in the job description surrounding the keywords. Matching single words helps, but matching phrases is much better. A job description may have dozens of keywords, so the task of matching can take a few hours. Even worse, you need to customize your resume for each job.

Fortunately, software is now available that makes this task much easier: resume scanning software. Paste in your resume, paste in your job description and hit the Scan button. You'll see all the keywords you're missing and how they are used in the job description. Make a few changes, scan again and keep fixing your resume until you're satisfied. In a short time you'll have a resume that matches the job description well, and your chance for an interview will be substantially improved.

Good Luck! Your next great job awaits.

© 2017 David Altfeder

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