How to make sure your CV/Resume makes the First Cut
You want to make sure your CV/Resume gets picked up by whatever system recruiters are using to filter them. So what are they using? What does your CV need to make the cut?
A lot of job search activity is on the internet, but many smaller companies, even tech savvy ones, are still happy to receive traditional CV/Resumes, and do not search for candidates online even at LinkedIn .
Many Companies receive traditional print or electronic applications and scan them into a computerised Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Then thousands of applications can be easily searched through to find those job applicants who have the qualifications, skills, experience, education and accomplishments the company is seeking. They do this by searching for keywords.
So although you may have heard it is not a good idea to use the same old clichéd words in your CV, and that recruiters are tired of reading repetitive CV’s and want unique and original copy, it may not be true if they are filtering using an ATS.
Because computers have changed the process again. Thousands of CV’s are scanned for keywords at once, and there’s no point being creative and eye catching at this stage of the process. The first objective is to make sure your CV makes the first cut.
So in this case the process is that you e-mail across your CV, it goes on to a database with thousands of others and a computer programme selects the CV’s with specific keywords. These are the CV’s that are passed to Human Resources.
Here’s some tips to make sure your CV makes the first cut:
- Copy Their Advertisement
The competencies called for in the job description are the keywords the company is looking for, so they will be included in their advertisement for the position. Use the keywords to get through the ATS but don’t copy the advertisement word-for-word on to your CV, as at some point it will be read by a human recruiter. List the keywords they’ve used and work them into your CV, in such a way that it will read well to the recruiter.
- Visit Their Website
Their website will list aims, policies, mission statement, values that are associated with the company. Include these keywords in your CV.
- Look at Industry advertisements, websites and journals.
Look online for similar jobs advertised in the same industry. You should see the same keywords there too, so check these are on your CV. The more you can match up with the employers’ ATS, the better your chances of success. Read trade journals and magazines to find out what’s going on in your industry, and use relevant keywords. Learn about new developments or industry trends, include relevant keywords. Remember to be ready to discuss these developments at interview.
- Include Power Keywords
Again we have been led to believe this was no longer a good idea because the same key phrases were included in thousands of CV’s, now the advice is to include industry specific keywords. Do some research and try to include leadership and teamwork keywords that apply to your industry. To do this, search for Industry Professionals on LinkedIn. Their profiles will provide clues as to what your potential employers are looking for and should indicate the correct keywords.
At the beginning of your CV write a summary with your skill set, which includes the important keywords you have established. This gives the computer system and the interviewer easy access to the keywords. Then repeat the keywords throughout the CV, remembering that it will be read by human eyes eventually and you want it to make sense and read well.
ATS systems at the moment are a much more powerful tool for recruiters because they are more effective. They can speedily evaluate the resumes sent in rather than the recruiter having to manually hunt through social media sites.
So although some recruiters do use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites the likelihood is they may use them to validate candidates shortlisted by an ATS system.
You need to cover as many bases as you can, unless you know what system your target company is using.
So you would be well advised to have a resume optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems, and ensure your LinkedIn profile strongly and consistently reinforces the CV/resume. Profiles on Facebook and Twitter may be needed and other social media sites may be advantageous.
You might also want to have an attractive resume to mail or hand to an interviewer. This may have a photograph, be written in a beautiful font, be well laid out, printed on great paper, be illustrated.
So when a CV/resume is thrown up by the ATS system for review by a human, what are they looking for?
Often they will first check the skills and experience meet their needs as stated in the job description.
They will often define experience as number of years in a relevant position.
Then they will generally look for accomplishments or achievements. Your CV/resume has to demonstrate how your skills have been used to the company’s benefit. This will normally be listed under a section called “significant achievements “
Can you demonstrate increased sales, or profitability? Have you achieved an accreditation or won an award for your company? Have you led a team, met targets, streamlined a process, improved customer service or been promoted?
The way you used your skills to benefit your previous employer gives a good indication as to whether you’ll be a valuable addition to their team.