Will a computer decide your future? You don’t want a machine to determine whether you get an interview or not. You need to understand screening-by-computer and what to do about it.
Applying to larger companies increases the chance that a computer will initially scan your resume. You need to understand how the computer works so that a live human being will be sure to review your resume next. Computers can be seduced if you know how.
Computers are programmed to look for key words that parallel the key words in a position description. If you use similar words, but not the same words, the computer may not understand the difference and toss your resume out. You could be the best applicant of all and not get the chance to interview. For example, if the company is looking for a set designer for model homes, words like stage modeling, lifestyle arrangements, or décor fashion specialist may not work. It all depends upon who programs the computer and their understanding of the different variations of potential words. Here are some tips and rationale:
- Use the exact words from the position description to your resume. If the company is looking for a civil engineer, using the word engineer may not cut it.
- Usually there are 5 to 10 key words or phrases that describe the critical requirements the hiring company is looking for in a candidate. They usually revolve around: Job Title, schools attended, degrees obtained, certifications, professional skills, job experiences, technical terms, industry or functional buzzwords, company names, computer programs or applications, and so on.
- Once you have these key words, make sure they are on the first page of your resume, or better yet on the top half of the first page. It will be noticed quicker and ranked higher.
- The critical key words should be repeated further down the resume. Multiple uses of key words increases the likelihood of a fit, especially in past jobs. Algorithms like repetition.
- Nouns are more useful than verbs. Words like energized, talented, accomplished, and so on are meaningless. Words that are job specific are critical as they match the descriptors.
- If a cover letter is requested or required, focus like a laser beam on the key job skills and results that are most likely to get attention. Personalizing a cover letter or hoping to charm a human reader won’t work with a machine.
Outsmarting a computer is easy, once you know the tricks. However, to succeed with an interview takes a job background with results that match the open position. If you don’t have the background you’ll have wasted everyone’s time and your own credibility.
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