By Jenny Schuchert, IAITAM, Inc.
Today’s resume review processes are often automated, with software selecting the few resumes that move forward through the selection process. That means that the format of the resume and the content have to be as strongly related to what the hiring company is looking for as possible. And even with best efforts, sometimes those automated tracking systems have been known to miss very qualified candidates.
What steps can you take to increase the likelihood of your resume reaching the next level? Obviously, it isn’t just about having the right skills and experience, it is about presenting the information in a manner that the automated process can process and the human viewers respond to.
First, conduct research online about resumes and keywords. Job center websites have resource sections like this one from Monster.com that give basic structural information. Other articles like this one from LiveCareer focus on the keyword aspect of resume writing. Both of these examples are provided by organizations that offer career services, but whether you choose to work on your own or select some help, use your judgment to extract ideas from the resources that sound right for you and your job search. The articles do not always agree, but they all help you become aware of the tasks to perform and the choices that you have in representing yourself.
Be open to new ideas. For instance, if the article suggests that you start developing your resume by first writing down the skills that the hiring company will be looking for, consider trying it out. This type of suggestion can be a good way to gain a fresh perspective. Otherwise, it may be difficult for you to set aside that resume you did five years ago or to make the desired position central to your thoughts rather than your own background.
Actions and Results
An objective look at how you are presenting yourself is exactly what you need to start translating your career into actions and results rather than a regurgitated job description. Step two in resume development is the rework of duties to include action verbs, nouns that are meaningful in our field and the results related to those actions and nouns. Using this approach to present your achievements helps you get past the automated selection barrier as well as the less than 10-second review by the Human Resources person.
Capturing results is easy if you have numbers and percentages but without those, it requires more thought about ramifications, solutions, developments, etc. Numerical representation may not be appropriate (confidentiality of your former employer) or available. In IT Asset Management, we should be able to quote acquisition savings, process improvement percentages and completion statistics from successful refreshes, disposals, etc. Less obvious results that you should quote include risk reduction improvements, development of governance programs and compliance results. IAITAM’s aphorism that IT Asset Management increases the benefits from IT assets while reducing the risks associated with their use can guide you through identification of value.
As mentioned earlier, keywords are an important part of the modern resume because of the automation that helps organizations process out unqualified applicants. One piece of advice that has been broadly recommended is a skills summary section at the top of the resume that contains words that are good candidates for the employer specified keywords. However, in addition to putting the important words appropriate to you and to the position in that list, plan on using them in the text of your resume. The selection automation grows more sophisticated over time and stacking keywords in a pile without using them in context isn’t a good idea for the automation or for the review by HR.
Basic advice on what wording to use and not use in a resume changes over time. For IT Asset Management, keeping up with CIO objectives and IT trends can be helpful for the technical skills language. For general wording, read recent articles like this one from Forbes.com and then make your own choices. These list documents are not specific to any field or individual so thought should be put into whether you follow their advice and remove “self-motivated” or “responsible” from your resume.
If you look at your resume descriptions from the hiring company’s viewpoint, the requirements of a specific job that you are applying for may be hard to find. Solving this problem may mean customizing your resume for specific opportunities. After all, you need to answer the hiring company’s question about how you would fit into a specific position in as clear and obvious a format as possible. Sure, all the data may be on the resume somewhere already, but the custom approach lets you highlight what is important to the viewer. It is a much better method for communicating what you have achieved as well as for surviving the automated selection process.
More than Content
With all of the focus on the content, we still need to think beyond the information to the organization and design of your resume. There are many articles on this subject full of recommendations and some with templates for you to use. There are also plenty of “what not to do” articles that may or may not apply to an IT Asset Management resume. The bottom line is that the style of your resume is a choice where you must balance the look against the need to have your resume parse correctly in the selection automation.
Not Just the Resume
A resume is of course only one piece of the job search documents a job seeker needs to find that next position. However, writing your resume is an excellent place to start, helping you organize your thoughts about what you have done and what you would like to do next. If you do not invest the time and thought into the document, you are much more likely to have a resume that is flat and lifeless rather than one that represents you and your work life.