The job search is on. Your resume is written and perfected, you dutifully sent out dozens of copies … and all you hear is crickets. What went wrong? First, don’t get discouraged too easily. Industry estimates vary, but in some markets, less than 2 percent of applicants are called for an interview.
However, if your resume is not generating ANY response, it may be time to take a second look. Here are a few suggestions to improve your odds.
Make It Easy to Read
This may sound obvious, but sometimes it is tempting to go overboard to stand out. Unless you are applying for an arts-centric profession, avoid colorful graphics and professional headshots. Stick to basic formatting. Consistently use bold, all-caps or underline to highlight section headings, and employ bulleted lists. Keep fonts simple as well. Arial, Courier and Times New Roman are good choices. This may sound a little dull, but remember the “blink test.” If a hiring manager cannot glean the necessary information from your document in three to five seconds, gets placed on the “No” pile.
Customize Your Title and Keywords
You might think it is a time saver to use one standard resume for every job application but resist the temptation. This does not mean you need multiple unique copies. Rather, start with a basic structure. Then, make additions and revisions based on the information in each job description. Use the same words in your resume that companies use in their job postings. More and more companies are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These software programs scan for contextual keywords and key phrases and provide a score based on relevance. If your resume is not optimized with the correct wording, it may not make it past the computer.
Look Beyond the Resume
Even if you have crafted the world’s best ever resume, a company is unlikely to call you based on one piece of paper. Their next step is to Google you. Therefore, make sure you have a social media presence. LinkedIn is a good place to start and make sure the credentials listed online match your application materials.
Check, Check, and Recheck
“To err is human” but unfortunately, it can automatically disqualify you from a job. 61 percent of recruiters will dismiss a resume with typos, 43 percent will disqualify a candidate because of spelling errors, and the use of an unprofessional email address will get a resume rejected 76 percent of the time. (ERE Recruiting Intelligence, 2013). Sometimes it is difficult to catch your own mistakes, so enlist the help of friends and family. Not only might they find an elusive error, they may be able to offer suggestions for additional improvements.