When it comes to your job search, a resume screener is the first line of defense you need to break through. Only then can you get to that all important first interview. And hopefully that more important job offer.
Not to waste anyone’s time with a wrong fit, employers screen resumes. And they do this before scheduling phone interviews, the next hurdle to that in-person interview. So your resume has to be strong enough to make it through that first gauntlet as well as those that follow.
What is the basic resume screener process?
By the time the human resume screener sees your resume, they may only have a few resumes to screen. Many places use automated processes first, to weed out the less likely candidates. (FYI: Some get hundreds of resumes for just one job.)
Unfortunately, that means unless you’re good at using keywords, you may be excluded at the very beginning. Even if you’re right for the job!
And even for the ones that do make it to real live humans (like me at one point), there may still be dozens for the resume screener to go through. So many times, a resume you worked hard on may get no more than 8 seconds of eyeball time before going into the “no” pile.
You have to make it easy for them to say “yes”
Again, you need to make sure it’s oh so easy for them to spot in moments how wonderfully well you match the job description. For many resume screeners, the easiest way to screen is to simply look for obviously matching requirements.
And so all too often, they just don’t think about how the skills presented MIGHT fit nicely. Not saying that’s right or fair. Just telling you how it often happens. So your best line of defense — and offense — is to make it absolutely clear that what you offer is what they need.
No time for reading between the lines. Show them specifically why you are a great match for THIS job, loading the best stuff at the top. And maybe some at the bottom where eyes usually linger longer too. And please use keywords, even bolding them perhaps to grab the resume screener’s attention fast.
If you want to suggest changes to this or any other definition in our career dictionary, feel free to add your suggestions in a comment.
[This article updated in 2020]
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