6 Tips to Avoid the Resume Slush Pile

6 Tips to Avoid the Resume Slush Pile

These days, many large companies have so many applicants for new or vacant positions, they have to automate their systems just to deal with the influx. They use something called an applicant tracking system to weed through the mountain and pull out qualified candidates.

The tracker analyzes your resume and looks for key components. If you don’t have them, or if you stray from the norm too much, you’ll be relegated to the slush pile.

The only way to get past the automated tracker and into actual human hands is to tailor your document to beat the system.

Use These 6 Tips to Get a Human to Read Your Resume

You may not have realized you’d have to write for a machine as well as humans. Here are some easy ways to make sure you appeal to both:

1. Don’t Try to Be Too Unique

Using anything but standard formatting will confuse an application tracker. For instance, don’t title your headings with anything other than the standard “education,” “work experience,” “skills,” etc. In other words, color within the lines structurally.

For instance, if you name your work experience section “What I Learned on the Job,” you’re not only being too wordy, you’re going to fall through the cracks of the system.

Using fancy graphic designs or even two columns can also cause problems with an automated scanner. Straightforward formatting usually works best. A good resume template will be visually appealing without going overboard.

2. Use Keywords Listed in the Job Posting

Don’t just skim through job listings – read them carefully, and write down keywords you notice. These can include lists of skills, industry terms, and related words. Take these and use them strategically in your resume to make the application tracker zero-in on you as a prime candidate.

3. Note the Job Title

In your summary, state the job title exactly as it appears in the posting. Applicant trackers hone in on specificity.

4. Don’t Try to Trick the System, Though

Lots of people use sneaky ways to try to trick the system. This is not the way to go, especially if you want to appear professional (and you should). Common, sneaky tactics include adding keywords in white text so they’re “invisible,” adding keywords where they don’t make sense, and using keywords in an irrelevant fashion – for instance, saying “I am not a human resources specialist yet, but…”

5. Pay Attention to Spelling

An applicant tracker won’t recognize misspelled words. Make sure all your spelling is correct. Have a trusted person read over your resume to catch what a spell-checker might miss.

6. Don’t Forget About the Human Readers You’re Trying to Reach

In the end, you’re trying to get your resume into the hands of human readers. Don’t forget this final – and most important – audience when you’re creating your document.

Use a Resume Creator and Optimize Your Document

A resume builder can help you insert keywords in the right places, plus it will make sure you’re submitting the right format and information for your industry. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of resume building and sifting through endless resume templates.

Once you have a resume example that appeals to both machines and humans, you’re on your way to sailing straight to the job you’re aiming to get. Use these tips and it’s in the bag.