Three Ways to Get Your Resume through Screening Systems

Barry Lenson

It’s Monday morning. You’re going through your daily routine of job-hunting online. Suddenly there it is . . . . your dream job! You click through to the company’s career page, fill out the online application, and upload your resume and cover letter. Then you shut off your computer and head out to Starbucks to treat yourself to a latte. You just applied for your perfect job, so you can kick back and wait for the hiring company to roll out the red carpet for you, right?

As you know, that approach won’t work. In fact, your resume and cover letter probably won’t even get reviewed by actual human beings. Your stuff is going to get stopped by the hiring company’s resume-screening system.  So before you upload your materials and hit the “submit” button, here are some essential tactics that will get your resume past the computerized filters and onto the screen of a human being in HR . . .

Step One: Migrate key terms from the company’s job description into your resume and cover letter. If the company uses the term “supply chain” in the job listing, slug it into your resume. If it uses “customer service” or “people skills,” use those terms too.  Also be sure to include the exact names of any computer programs or other systems that are mentioned by the company in its job listing. Sure, this means that you will have to customize your resume a bit before submitting it. But if you are serious about finding a job, it’s worth the extra minutes.

Step Two: Avoid using abbreviations that the screening system will not recognize. If you earned an associate’s degree, for example, spell that out instead of writing “AD.” If you majored in computer science, spell that out instead of abbreviating it as “comp sci.” Remember that if the company wants to hire people with specific credentials, it has probably set up its resume screening system to look for them in unabbreviated form. Also: Certain acronyms like “IT” are now so standard that it is probably safe to use them. But if you are even a little unsure about whether an acronym will be universally recognized, spell out the words it stands for.

Step Three: Upload your resume and cover letter into windows on the hiring company’s page instead of attaching them. There’s a very simple reason for this. When you upload your materials into windows on the site, you can review them right there to see if they look right, with no funny fonts, squiggles where letters ought to be, or other quirks. If you attach your materials, you can never be completely sure that will be the case. Another piece of advice? If the hiring company gives you only the option of attaching your materials, avoid any fancy fonts that could be misread. Also be sure to submit your resume in a standard format, like a Word document. If your resume can’t be read, you can’t get selected for further consideration, right?

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