The year 2021 is going to be challenging for job seekers. Nonetheless there are steps you can take to get a job faster. The trick for many of us will be to have a resume and LinkedIn profile that is easier for applicant tracking system (ATS) software to digest, and for hiring team members to read rapidly.
A few steps you can take during the holiday break include:
- Filling your resume and profile with facts and figures,
- Providing context for your accomplishments,
- Creating a narrative hiring teams will read or skim quickly,
- Making it “easy for the customer to buy,”
- Concentrating on text instead of graphics, and
- Using text sizes that help recruiters read your resume.
Some of these ideas, such as using the best font, are easy to implement using software such as MS-Word. Other ideas may take a little research that you may have time to do during the holidays.
Fill your resume and LinkedIn profile with relevant facts and figures.
Describe the companies you’ve worked for, your role in the companies, and your achievements with specific facts and numbers. It is more meaningful for example to state that you worked for a company or division with $3 billion in annual revenue, for example, than to say you worked for a large organization. The term “large” means different things to different people. Similarly, it’s more impactful to say you increased revenue 15% year-over-year than it is to say you substantially increased revenue each year.
A client I worked with raised money from large donors. Instead of stating that she was accountable for working with large donors, we said she worked with individuals donating $2,000 or more per year.
Your resume will be most convincing with facts and figures, rather than adjectives and generalizations.
Provide context for your accomplishments.
Put your accomplishments in context for the strongest case. Usually, I suggest providing a one-sentence thumbnail of each company where you worked. Then, include a scope statement before going on to your accomplishment bullet points. Our goal is for the reader to quickly grasp the nature of the company, its size, if it is publicly available, and the role you were assigned to play. For example, a company thumbnail and job scope statement I wrote for a client read as follows:
Ocrolus, Inc., New York, NY 2015–Present
The company delivers FinTech solutions to lenders, including data verification, enhanced fraud detection, and cash-flow analytics.
QA Engineer – Manual and Automated Tester
Assigned to write and implement test plans for web-based and app-based frontend and backend transaction systems. Designed, wrote, and executed acceptance test strategies for browser-based, back office, and front office software solutions. Coordinated testing with 10 software development engineers.
The section does even more than help hiring teams put the candidate’s accomplishments in context. It adds industry keywords such as “FinTech,” “cash flow analytics,” and “fraud detection.” This should increase the chances that ATS software will find the candidate’s resume.
Create a narrative the hiring team can skim quickly.
ATS software may reduce the number of resumes hiring teams have to read, but with so many people job-searching after the Pandemic, HR staff and recruiters will still have lots of reading to do. They are our customers, so make it easy for them. As shown in our resume examples, we always write accomplishments as bullet-points, in addition to keeping thumbnail company descriptions and scope statements short. This avoids giving hiring teams large blocks of text to read.
Make it easy for the customer to buy.
A related issue is making certain that the hiring team can locate your contact information easily. Do this on your resume by including your name, cellphone number, and email address on top of your resume’s first page. Do not use a first page MS-Word header for this information because ATS systems usually ignore headers.
On the other hand, make certain your name and contact information is in your second-page header because hiring team members may print your resume, and then separate the pages. The header will help assure your second page will not be lost. ATS software will not “see” the header so the flow won’t be interrupted to the online reader.
A similar issue exists with regard to LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn does not allow us to place contact information in headlines. We can place contact information in the “About” section—the most frequently read section of LinkedIn profiles. My own About section takes advantage of this in the last sentence:
“Contact me today via email at Frank@ResumesThatShine.com to get started.”
This line serves as a “call to action” in marketing term. It gives readers my contact information without scrolling back to the LinkedIn Intro section.
Concentrate on text instead of graphics.
Experts say 80% of human communications is visual, so we understand when job seekers want to include icons, charts, and photos on their resumes. Graphics can work against you on both your resume and LinkedIn profile, though.
ATS and LinkedIn software do not digest information contained in graphics. That great chart showing your year-over-year sales increase for the past five years will be skipped over although it tells the story quickly. The hiring manager may see the graph if the ATS retains an image of the entire resume. A graph will still take up space that may be used more wisely for another accomplishment bullet. Furthermore, images and graphics will not improve your ATS results because graphics are not searchable in ATS software.
LinkedIn allows you to attach or link to images. Take advantage of that feature to bring your high-impact graphics to the attention of hiring teams.
Use text font sizes that help computers and recruiters read your resume easily.
Last, but not least, a simple thing you can do is to use the best font size. Your font-size choice impacts readability when your resume reaches hiring team members for review. Use font sizes between 10 point and 12 point for best readability, especially if a team member chooses to print the resume.
My strategy is to start with 12 point text and lots of white space. Then, I bring the size down to 11 point, or even 10 point when the resume does not fit into either one page, or nearly two full pages. You are probably including too much information, I’ve found, if your document is running longer than two pages in a 10 point typeface.
Keep it clear and simple for best results.
Is your resume clear and simple enough for great results? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to see how we can help you. Thank you to Andrew Fennell’s December 10, 2020 Fast Company article for reminding me about some of the basic ideas above.