2 Steps to Writing a Better Resume

2 Steps to Writing a Better Resume

If you’ve ever used a resume template without giving its formatting a second thought, you could risk excluding yourself from the job hunt altogether. How? Resume templates found online that use different colors, lots of columns, a header or a footer, and fancy fonts or graphics, may look stylish, however, modern applicant tracking systems can’t process them.

When I wrote my resume to be considered for a job at Davron, I immediately went to Word and picked out the prettiest template I could find. I filled out all my information and made sure that it looked cute.

Luckily, I got a call back and was asked to come in for an interview. During my interview, the hiring manager mentioned to me that the template that I used for my resume made it difficult for their applicant tracking system to parse the information. It wasn’t until I was hired that I fully understood the meaning behind parsing and the value of a functioning resume.

Parsing refers to the way that strings of data get converted into different types of data. In the case of a resume parser, it takes a Word document and separates the information into categories such as your name, telephone, address, email, keywords, etc.

A resume parser may struggle to pick out the information if the template being used has lots of columns, graphics, and fancy fonts. As an example, I used a header for my name and contact information. However, the resume parser at DAVRON was unable to recognize the header as part of the document, skipped over it, and my name and contact never made it into the system. I got lucky, my brother and sister work here so I had an in. But I wonder if I didn’t have those connections would I have been considered?

Employers typically spend no more than seven seconds looking at a resume. If a resume isn’t easy to read and didn’t parse properly, it may not be read at all. By using the proper resume formatting, you can tilt the odds in your favor. Here’s two easy steps;

  1. Use simple, linear formatting. Do not use a header, a footer or numerous columns. Your resume should be easy to read up and down without any obstructions or obstacles.
  2. Use keywords! Do you know Word, Excel? Are you a hairstylist or an auto mechanic? Get that in your resume! Be sure to use keywords that describe your job title, skills and experience. Parsing systems pick up keywords. If an employer is looking for a specific skill, you won’t be found unless you put it in your resume.  

When writing resumes it is imperative to use minimalistic formatting and strategic keyword optimization to set your resume apart from others. When formatted correctly, the contents of the resume are able to shine through and give hiring managers a reason to extend those seven seconds and keep reading.