How to Avoid the Resume Black Hole

Jay and I are always looking for good information to pass along to you and in that effort, I ran across an article in USNews, How to Avoid the Resume Black Hole. I had this conversation recently with a cousin of mine at a family reunion where he asked “How do I get my resume in front of hiring people?”. This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked something like this. Sending out your resume and never getting a response is FRUSTRATING!

I won’t copy the entire article here, but there were a few things that really stood out to me. Remember that the person doing the hiring receives a TON of responses to their job posting, and has to comb through each submission looking for just the right qualities. If it’s a human resource staffing person, that one job may be just one of fifteen others. Take a minute to imagine the work of going through so many resumes.

That’s why companies have begun using an applicant tracking software (ATS). It’s important to familiarize yourself with the way Applicant Tracking Systems work in order to boost your chances of having your resume end up in front of the right pair of eyes.

To get your resume noticed, here are some of tips to make it through the ATS and into the hands of a hiring agent.

  • Any ATS system can work with Word or PDF files, and preserve the resume in the form you submit it to be viewed.
  • Lines, text boxes and color can be handled by almost every ATS, but as a recruiter, I would caution you to use these judiciously. Too much clutter on a resume can be a killer.
  • Be careful about using graphics. Some ATS systems vary in their ability to deal with images. Words embedded in graphics won’t be recognized or parsed out. Sometimes these come across looking like gibberish. Also true, especially in the tax world, making your resume too graphics heavy can draw away from the actual message of the resume.
  • ATS Systems look for certain items to be in particular places on your resume. Your name and contact information should be at the top, not placed in a vertical text box along the side of the page. Use appropriate headings for the various sections of your resume, too
  • There is no need to try and game the system by repeating keywords to get a better keyword-scoring match. Typically , human resource people frown on this practice
  • Make sure your resume demonstrates that you are well suited for the position for which you are applying. This may mean tailoring your general resume a little bit when applying for a specific position.

The benefit of using a recruiter is that we are in contact with the people making those hiring decisions. We bypass the company ATS systems altogether by developing relationships and speaking directly with the people in the position to make choices about who to hire. Since we know what these employers are looking for (which is often not exactly what’s written in their job description) we know how to sell your skills and get you noticed. Take a look at our job board and see if a few positions look interesting to you.

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