Prepping Your Resume for the Digital Age

During this economic crisis, it is especially important that you keep your resume up-to-date and capable of commanding the attention of a potential employer. However, it’s increasingly likely that the first “person” who will read your resume, won’t be a “person” at all. Rather, since companies are inundated with hundreds or thousands of resumes per day, many companies are turning toward technology to help them weed through the slew of applications for the same positions.

The first rule of thumb: when you submit your resume expect that it will be scanned by an electronic system for key words. Thus, it will work to your benefit if you carefully read the description of the position your want to apply to and purposefully include key words in describing your talents in your resume. While it might seem a little irritating to have to tailor your resume to both a computer and human audience, it may actually work to your advantage in the long run. Specifically, when employers used to say “we’ll keep your resume on file”, that was like the kiss of death. But now they might actually mean it since the computer system is doing the initial legwork for them.

In addition to using keywords in your resume, the following tips will help you stand out in the digital age:

  • Use variations of keywords: some systems check how often a particular word or variation of a word is used. If you’re looking for a job in accounting, for example, use both the words “accounting” and “accountant” in your resume.
  • Use keywords smartly: don’t just write the keyword “accountant” fifty times on your resume simply because you want the computer to pick your resume out of the hundreds of others. Ultimately, a human reader will read your resume if you get to the later stages of the interviewing process and you don’t want to look ridiculous and desperate.
  • Don’t go overboard: it can be useful to have a list of your particular skills on your resume so that search engines will pick you up, but also so that human readers can get an idea of your strengths. However, don’t list more than nine, otherwise you might just end up looking superficial.
  • Use text only: if you’re asked to copy and paste your resume into a textbox, make sure to use a text-only version. Sometimes copying from a Word documents results in odd characters because of formatting issues between the two programs. You might even want to save a copy of your resume as a plain-text file so that it is easily accessible when you have to copy and paste.
  • Follow directions: every system is different, so make sure to carefully read the instructions and properly post your resume and other materials.