Is your résumé written for computer and human eyes_

We are seeing it everywhere, IT, software systems, phone and computer based Apps, all with the purpose to automate what is possible to make daily processes more efficient and effective. The recruitment sector has been using software for some time but so many people still know very little about it.

Have you heard of ATS? Applicant Tracking System or Résumé Parsing? They are software programs that assist businesses with the recruitment process. These days it is common for one job posting to receive over 400 job applications and in some cases over 1000. While you are wondering how you can compete against so many other applications, those in charge of recruitment are wondering how they can effectively find the best candidate in the most efficient and effective way.

Many software systems now scan your document and extract key information to be stored uniformly on an internal database. This standardises the information allowing the recruiter and other stakeholders to keyword and phrase search to objectively search and expedite the recruitment process. That’s right your beautifully formatted document has now been spliced and sliced and hasn’t yet had contact with human eyes. The recruiter can choose several filters which will refine the number of candidates they need to personally view.

Resume Parsing ATS and Resumes

Think of how you use your job search engine such as, you keep adding filters such as how long ago the job was posted, location, full or part time and so on until you have 20 or less jobs to view. Recruiters using software technology search the same way.

So if you are solely writing your résumé with the idea that someone will personally see and read it then your résumé writing style is outdated. There is no guarantee that the next position you apply for will or will not be using software technology so your best approach is to write a résumé that is suitable for both. It is expected in the next few years that most if not all roles will use an ATS or Résumé Parsing system. All useful technology evolves, receives upgrades and eventually becomes affordable for the masses. We are starting to see this occur where several software companies now offer this software to the SME (Small Medium Enterprise) marketplace.

Therefore it is time to learn more about writing your résumé differently.

human eyes resume parsing            How to write your résumé for computer and human eyes:

  1. Create your résumé so it is aesthetically pleasing. A well formatted résumé will always draw the reader’s attention. Your résumé will still need to have relevant content. Therefore write with style and substance.
  2. Avoid over formatting your résumé. Learn to write your résumé without tables and boxes as some ATS software may struggle to read / extract the data in each box.
  3. Use industry jargon not company jargon. You may have liked your previous job title but it may not be a keyword the ATS software has been programed to search for. It is ok to adapt the name of previous job titles as long as the role title is technically correct and is understood by the broader industry.
  4. Write your résumé using the correct keywords. A keyword will be chosen by the end user to use as a filter when thinning out applications. Using a highlighter, mark all keywords in the job advertisement and compare your résumé keywords. It is not recommended that you change all wording to match the job advertisement, especially if it isn’t all technically correct, but it is recommended to replace keywords where appropriate. Example, you may have MS Office Suite but the position is requesting MS Excel. You could change your résumé to read: MS Office Suite experience including MS Excel. (In case the keyword filter is not programmed to capture MS Office Suite)
  5. Consider seeing a Career Consultant, Career Coach or Professional Résumé Writer and ask for specific coaching on this topic. However, always try yourself first before seeking professional assistance. That way you will know more about the topic and your own limitations.
  6. Some readers will be wondering how they can ever get a job if they don’t have the exact or similar experience that the job advertisement is asking for. Most positions advertised online are looking for candidates with same/similar experience. Therefore in most situations, you need to learn how to access the hidden job market. The hidden job market today, still provides us with the most opportunities for gaining employment and should be part of every job seeker’s job search strategy.

If you have been unsuccessful in your job search for some time you may be feeling disheartened, down and with a diminishing self-esteem. This mindset does not produce the best employment outcomes and many job seekers start to lower their job search target thinking that it is something personal. It isn’t personal and a Career Consultant or Career Coach can objectively review your job search strategy and identify components to change.


Danielle Kabilio

Principal Consultant and Career/Organisational Coach

Careers West

Perth, Western Australia

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