Industry research tells us that recruiters spend an average of 6-8 seconds looking at your resume before deciding whether you are suitable for a position or not. That is if your resume ever reaches a recruiter...
According to a recent survey, over 98.8% of Fortune 500 companies use Applicant Tracking System (ATS), while 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on them. Studies have shown that up to 75% of qualified applicants are rejected by ATS programs because they can't be read.
But, fret not! Below are some insights and strategies to ensure your resume passes the initial screening process and makes you a standout candidate.
How to Pass Applicant Tracking Systems:
Use Relevant Keywords:
- Include relevant keywords from the job posting and company website.
- Integrate the keywords into your resume (do not list a bunch of keywords together).
- Expand on the keywords within your work experience or projects.
- Customize your keywords and other aspects of your resume for each application.
- Choose clear and standard language; avoid using puns, metaphors, or idioms.
- Spell out acronyms.
- Add examples with quantifying details.
- Instead of: “developed a social media campaign,” use: “Conducted market research and developed a social media marketing campaign that resulted in a 20% increase in website traffic and a 15% increase in sales for a local clothing boutique.”
- Submit your resume in .docx file format. PDF files can be challenging for an ATS to read.
- Avoid unique formatting such as tables, boxes, images, or special characters.
- Use chronological or logical formatting to list your experience.
- Avoid using headers or footers; place important information in the body of your resume.
- Clearly separate job titles from other information such as dates by using commas or line breaks.
- Use standard bullet points; do not use stars, checkmarks, or other unique bullet options.
- Do not capitalize your name.
- Use a word cloud generator to identify the most frequently used keywords in a job post.
- Test your resume by saving it as a plain text file and check for formatting and content changes.
- Submit your application early, as some companies may cap the number of applications they accept.
- Whenever possible, use your network to have someone refer you.
Now that your resume has passed the ATS system, here's how to optimize it for a recruiter.
What Recruiters Look for in Candidates:
Recruiters seek candidates who embody the following qualities:
- Lifelong learners who are curious: Standout applicants are not afraid to experiment, either—they are willing to approach projects from different points of view or learn new skills.
- Analytical & Technical Mindset: Be able to solve complex and simple problems alike, by making decisions based on the available information.
- Communication & Collaboration: An exceptional candidate will offer their peers help when they get stuck, teach new skills to others, and even write tutorials to help their team.
- Leadership qualities and/or experience: Someone who took a leadership role in a project, event or school club.
How to Talk about Your Experience:
When discussing your experience, follow these guidelines:
- Use an "active" voice, employing verbs such as designed, implemented, executed, drove, and planned.
- Highlight your involvement and leadership in clubs, whether related to computing, diversity, sports, or other areas.
- Focus on the impact you have made and include relevant metrics whenever possible.
Ensure your resume adheres to these recommendations:
- Remember that "experience" doesn't solely mean paid work
- Highlight more than just your grades; showcase your involvement both on and off-campus.
- Make sure your resume matches with your LinkedIn profile and other online career sites.
- Get your resume reviewed multiple times
Below is a customizable resume template for freshmen and sophomores looking for an internship.