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How to Get Your Resume Past the Robots

  • Publish Date: Posted over 5 years ago
  • Author: Barry Mills

How to Get Your Resume Past the Robots

Historically, the initial entity to review your submitted resume was a Recruiter. As cost and margin pressure has been applied to both internal recruiting departments and third-party Recruiters, automation and shoring (offshore, nearshore and rural shore) strategies have rapidly entered the resume evaluation process. 

How to Get Your Resume Past the Robots

Automation including machine learning and chatbots/robots augment the efforts of Recruiting and Staffing professionals and it is important that you, as a candidate, adjust your resume format to ensure the ROBOTS (yes robots are becoming more involved in initial screening of resumes) don’t overlook your resume due to errors that you can control. 

Shoring strategies leverage lower cost labor to help create “shortlists” of candidates/applicants. The shortlists have eliminated mismatches while including candidates who need a Recruiter to complete a more thorough review and vetting of the candidate.

Depending on the employer’s specific process, the domestic Recruiter may only see a subset of resumes that have been initially screened via an automated tool or an offshore team member.

Here are the top factors that will have the most significant impact on how far your resume goes…

  1. Add your FULL NAME at the top of your resume. With an ever more diverse work culture, many surnames and family names have 5-15 letters. Both Internal Talent Acquisition departments and larger Staffing Firms have candidate repositories will millions of candidates stored. I have seen many resumes that let the world know their name is “R.V.” or “J.D.” or “Ravi V.” or “Jon D.” and nothing more. Use of initials vs. full names increases the odds of your data being stored with less structure and therefore more difficult to recall. While some Recruiters may struggle with pronunciation, thorough and specific data is far easier for the Recruiter to manage vs. utilization of a wildcard (*) after an initial. 

  2. ZIP CODE. You may sincerely be willing to relocate and work anywhere, but note: most Recruiters (and Robots) start their searches with a search string that filter for candidates who live within a specified geographic radius of the job location. If the Recruiter is unable to find a local candidate, typically their next move is to expand the radius or remove a zip code search altogether. If you have no zip code on your resume, you will only be discovered if there are no local candidates who appear qualified and interested…EVEN IF YOU LIVE NEXT DOOR TO THE JOB LOCATION. Candidate resumes with zip codes almost always are considered first. If you omit it, you are often never considered as you have chosen to be “invisible” to the initial set of searches performed by the Robots, Sourcing teams, or Recruiters.

  3. TEXT is good and graphics are bad. Creativity is certainly a desired skill by many, however, the use of boxes, lined sections, charts, tables or other HTML-influenced characters will often inaccurately convert during the resume upload process. The conversion errors often will display the HTML code vs. the pretty graphics you expect the reader to see. The conversion errors also may distort the tables and cause wrap and alignment errors. 

  4. Use a PDF format and not MS Word. Many versions of Word are in use and your default setting for page width, font, headers, footers, spacing, etc. may be different than the reader’s setting. The average resume reader will see your resume from their view, and formatting changes/errors are assumingly attributed to your lack of detail. By converting your resume to a PDF format, the formatting will remain intact. 

  5. Danger Words. English is the language of business, but regardless of what is your primary, secondary or tertiary language, avoid the following words/phrases: “familiar with”, “have seen”, “have heard about”, “have knowledge of”, etc. These phases tell the reader you really do not have experience with the referenced concept or technology. If you have “it”, describe what you have done with “it” in the job description where you did “it”.  

  6. DATES of employment must include month and year. If you worked at a company from 2015 to 2016, did you work one day (12/31/2015-01/01/2016) or did you work for this employer for two years (01/01/2015 – 12/31/2016)?? These dates must be accurate as many background checks will confirm dates of previous employment and your resume must be aligned with the background check process to avoid your offer from being withdrawn.    

Your resume is often referred to as your marketing brochure, but unlike a sales process where the brochure is mailed or passed along in person, your resume typically follows an automated path. Automation is here to stay and rather than ignore the automation, help the Recruiter find you and then thoroughly understand what you do. 

All the best in your search!