Words to the Wise

July 18, 2023

Who Will Read My Resume? – August 1, 2023

Bot or Not, You’ve Got to Write for Both!

Three-fourths of resumes never get seen by human eyes.

Live recruiters who do will spend as little as 6-8 seconds.

Those are the generally accepted statistics. But they don’t mean your resume WON’T be read by a real person.

It only means the stakes are that much higher when it is.

Truth Told, Humans Still Read Resumes

The hiring process is a hard nut to crack. Recruiters have a tough time of it, especially when it comes to record keeping and following anti-discrimination rules. Even though most use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to organize applications as they come in, they still make the call on which ones to set aside or move along. That’s one big reason why simply loading up on keywords or using white text to manipulate the ATS just isn’t a good idea.

Any seasoned hiring manager can see it—yes, in six seconds or less.

So, as long as your resume doesn’t give the reviewer any excuse, it’s possible your application may receive up to 15 minutes of consideration; or, in other words, as long as it takes him or her to make a decision. That includes time spent looking at other information submitted (portfolio links, references, files, cover letters, etc.). In that respect, the ATS is less of a gate-keeper and more a simple file-manager.

The Shortcomings of “Scanning”

Anyone who has filled out an online application knows how frustrating it can be to upload a meticulously crafted resume only to have the site ask for the same information entered all over again manually. That’s because the ATS used to parse data from your resume can’t figure out where to put what in its files. In other cases, the ATS may be programmed with certain “knock-out” questions, i.e., minimum requirements that must be met for eligibility.

That can take the form of a basic certification or software proficiency. Falling short on an easily quantifiable metric will no doubt trigger an automatic rejection notification. So, the best advice is to make sure to read the job posting carefully and only apply if you are fully qualified for it. No one really “beats the ATS” or “games the system” because, well, a real person WILL eventually read your resume. And, when they do, you want it to speak in their language—not in code.

The Dual-Purpose of Great Resume Writing

Having the right keywords in place matters just as much as keying in the right words. That means striking a proper balance between what the ATS is looking for and what a real person is likely to respond to. Neither like fluff, puffed-up credentials, or jargon-rich descriptions. Rather, the goal should be to convey what you do best and why in straightforward terms that does the work of the ATS and the recruiter for them.

So, when it comes to what reads your resume, all the ATS has to do is check a box.

Same goes for who.

Bot and not.

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