I wrote about writing resumes for the new economy in Six Resume Rules – Resume Writing and Job Hunting, Part 1. This post will be about writing for the automated tools many companies now use to screen resumes before passing them on to HR departments.
Many companies use automated tools to review resumes before humans touch them because — before a company ever concerns itself with your ability to do the job — they want to know if you’re going to be an HR headache. NextStage offers a tool that is used fairly widely for just this purpose. John Scullin, Director, Board of Health, Stoneham, MA, uses our tools because we save them time and money “NextStage Evolution has repeatedly saved us time and money during contract negotiations and the interviewing process. It’s ability to find hidden meanings in what people write has always helped us win the upper hand.” What our tool does is analyze resumes and cover letters to determine six HR crucial factors:
- Ability to Help
- Works Well With Others
- Requires Little Supervision
These six factors were isolated as critical during conversations with HR professionals. A quick glance tells the company if they should put the accompanying resume in the up or down file. The math is simple; Company A gets 4000 resumes or online applicants for four positions. All 4000 applicants are well qualified and have good references.
But long before Company A reads those qualifications or contacts references they want to narrow the field to the fewest possible candidates who can do the job, do it well, and won’t cause problems, ie, can the applicant help? Will they get along with their co-workers? etc.
Some companies will even do a competitive resume analysis. They want to know how well you score on those six vectors in comparison to all the other resumes out there.
Writing for Automated Tools
These tools are highly sophisticated. Fortunately, the majority of them are sophisticated idiots (NextStage’s tool is, of course, both sophisticated and incredibly smart). You can write resumes that pass through automated screenings by:
- Write bulleted lists, not paragraphs about capabilities and responsibilities
- Do not include photos of yourself, do include samples of your work
- Use descriptive, single syllable words when describing your work experience
- Use emotive, multi-syllable words when describing yourself
- Use positive language to describe relationships with past employers and reasons for moving on
Most automated tools look for key words and phrases when scanning resumes and cover letters. Some are sophisticated enough to pick out industry jargon but not sophisticated enough to perform any kind of semantic analysis. This means short, meaningful phrases about your work experience will score higher than long paragraphs. Similarly, a single paragraph, 2-3 sentences long with emotive text about yourself will score higher than a short, terse paragraph.
You’ll notice that there’s a big change when writing for an automated tool versus a person; the use of the photo. Again, if you’re applying to a small shop use the photo, otherwise don’t.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- BizMediaScience Resume and Job Hunting Blog Posts
Sign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.