Q: I am applying for an engineering role. I am targeting larger companies, mostly in the north shore or Burlington area. I am worried that my resume is not getting seen by the right people at these target companies. How do I make sure I get through the screening process?
A: Most larger organizations have an ATS (applicant tracking system) which screens resumes. Talent acquisition teams often use an ATS to extract information from your resume and create a digital resume or profile so your work history and experience can be more easily shared and then searched. The intent of an ATS is to better identify top candidates and weed out those who might not be qualified. Every ATS though has flaws. Sometimes a resume is not understood because of the format or the font. A logo could be misread. If a candidate does not include specific key words, their digital profile may not bubble up to the top of the “pile” of resumes in the ATS.
A few tips:
- Key words are essential. Often recruiters will search by key words within a certain zip code or geographic region. For example, one company may use the term talent acquisition versus recruiter. Find out what your target companies use by scanning their website and their open positions. Make sure that your resume includes “their” key words. If your target company uses specific words frequently, try to integrate them into your resume. I recently worked with a company where it seemed like the word “entrepreneurial” was used during every meeting. Any candidate should be using that word on their resume!
- Simplify your resume. Use a font that is easily scanned. Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri and Tahoma are all reasonable choices. Avoid “wedding invitation” fonts. Also remove any logos. Logos can confuse an ATS.
- Review your skills. Skills are one of the most common places where you can embed key words on your resume. Corporate recruiters will often search several key words. If you are a mechanical engineer, consider the following key words: mechanical, design, design, build, develop, team, BSME and CAD. However, the job description is your guiding document. If you see a role posted, use that document to help you define your key words.
- Many candidates are not including their home address on their resume. I think that is fine but I think should include your city/town, state and zip code.
- Finally make sure that there is synergy between your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Don’t bend into something you are not.
Companies have become increasingly reliance on their ATS. Your goal is to optimize your resume to ultimately generate interest in your work experience and then land an interview.