“If I could only get in front of someone, I know I could get the job.”

Once upon a time, in a world seemingly far far away, we would sit down with the classified section of the Sunday newspaper and a red pencil (it always was a red pencil, wasn’t it?) then circle jobs that were perfect for us. We would attach a well thought-out cover letter to our resume, drop them into an envelope, add a couple stamps, march down to the post office and within 2-3 days,someone with two eyes and a brain would read it.

That’s not the case today.

Today, you must write your resume(s) to satisfy all the various “readers.” Yes, I said READERS, plural. You have a minimum of three (3) readers today. Not making it past any one of them and you’re dead. Here’s who/what you must satisfy:  (Click on picture above to read the rest of the article)

  1. A Computer
  2. Human Resources, then finally
  3. Hiring Manager

Here’s how it works and why.

In almost every case, your resume is not read by a human without first being scanned by a company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. The computer searches for keywords. If you don’t have the right keywords in the right quantity, you never get to a real person (with or without a brain).

Now you know why they call it the Black Hole!

Companies today can receive well over a thousand applications/resumes for a single position at the same time that most companies have reduced the staffing of their HR department to bare bones levels. Some recruiters are doing the work of three people, so don’t blame them. In fact, an outstanding Talent Acquisition Manager tells the story of receiving in excess of 1,200 applications for a single administrative assistant position.

“The Rule of Three”

Recruiter par excellence, Jay Boylan, shared that, not only do ATS’ search for keywords and long tailed strings (keywords strung together in a specific order), but there is a minimum of three times that each keyword must appear in order to pass muster. So, after you discover the keywords for your title, you must include them in quantity without using either the Over-Stuffing or White Space scams. (You can now finally forget the one-page resume nonsense.)

Reader #2: Human Resources

Let’s say a miracle occurs and you make it into the grubby little mitts of a company recruiter, you only have 2-6 seconds to impress or you’re off the the circular file. That’s right, your entire professional history compressed into a handful of seconds! So you better grab’em by the throat and not let go, but how?

“The First 5 Inches”

Fold a sheet of paper (your resume) in half then open it up again. After your name (they never read your name) you have about 5 inches before you reach the fold. Everything above the fold matters, everything below the fold doesn’t matter. This is where you need to focus much attention if you want to get their attention. (Forget the flowery career summary & objective..this real estate is too valuable.)

Unfortunately, using tables, columns, borders, lines and all the other things that can make a resume interesting to the eye (and brain) can make the ATS blow a gasket, so you can’t use them now. But you can create your own set of columns by tabbing over. You just can’t use the bullet feature, but you can use an asterisk [ * ] to make your points stand out.

Feature skills, accomplishments, training and awards in this section…and use keywords here too.

Reader #3: The Hiring Manager

Here’s where you should get creative. I suggest either an Interview Resume or a Marketing Brochure or both. Chances are good that the Hiring Manager will have no more than scanned your existing resume prior to your interview.

Use charts, graphs, company logos, columns, bullet points and other methods to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Remember too, that most Hiring Managers have never had a moment of interview training. You can often guide your interview in the direction you want it to go.. But let’s get back to your resume.

Hand the Hiring Manager your Interview Resume and lead with something like, “I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of adjusting my resume so you don’t have to read through countless paragraphs to find what I bring to the table. I have a section at the top called Value Proposition.”

If you put these tactics to work, you are likely to get much improved results.