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How to Get your Resume into Human Hands

I probably spend the most time talking my resume clients out of  “resume truths” they have been told over the years that no longer hold true. For example, including “interests” and other personal information on your resume.

However, by far the biggest thing I have to do is talk a client out of a “designed” resume that they have either done themselves or downloaded as a template off some website. They seem convinced that having a fancy resume design will put them ahead of the game of getting noticed and be some kind of competitive advantage. It will NOT, and here is why.

By far the biggest change to the job hunt over the last several years is the advent of the ATS, or applicant tracking system. The ATS is a software application used by companies to search through thousands of resumes quickly to determine which ones are the best fit for a position. Many are web-based so they are affordable to even small companies and non-profits. It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that your carefully designed resume is getting reviewed by bots. But it’s true!

The automated scan often serves as a “pre-screening” tool used by hiring managers to weed out resumes and therefore candidates who don’t match up to the “keywords” the potential employer is looking for in the job posting. We’ll talk strategy around this in another post, but for now let’s talk  technical reality. The bot can’t scan your fancy UX resume.  It is not intuitive. If your resume is not written in a fairly traditional format using an easily recognizable font, nothing you have put in it is going to translate to you getting a human to look at it.

So what do you do with your fancy and fun, creative and cool resume? Bring it to the face to face interview if you really think it is important for someone on the interview team to see you have that skill set. By all means, if you are going for a design job in a creative field, let that flag fly. Put it on your LInkedIn profile, and then put a link to your customized LinkedIn profile in the header of your resume, right under your name. If someone wants to know more about you, they will click on the link. If you think this is an important skill to highlight, feature it prominently on your profile. Or, use a service that allows you to host your own website for creative projects and add that to your LinkedIn profile, and your resume. Just don’t do anything to give the ATS a reason to “opt you out” before you’ve gotten to the content.

Technology to do’s? Use a fairly simple font, and basic resume design. Look at it in RTF, PDF and Word. Open it in Google Docs. If you’ve done it on a Mac, make sure it is in a font that is common in Microsoft or your carefully constructed bullet points may look like emojis after the ATS has had it’s way. Do yourself a favor and believe me on this one. If you don’t, google the phrase “ATS and creative resume formats” or read this article from The Ladders, or ask anyone you know who works in HR. Get your resume into human hands!

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