How to get your Resume past the HR Department

How to get your Resume past the HR Department

We’ve all faced the situation of applying for a role and not making the shortlist (or even hearing back about our application). Quite often if applying for a role online, computer programs or ‘bots’ filter out the applicants that are seen to not possess the right qualifications and experience.

So how do you ensure that your application stands the best chance?

Firstly, your need to make sure your Resume is relevant to the job. By thoroughly reading the job description, make note of all the ‘essential’ components. If they ask for a Bachelor Degree in Advanced Computing and you don’t have it, it’s probably a waste of time applying. A ‘Bot’ will filter out all the candidates that don’t meet the essential requirements. This also goes for experience: If the advertisement is asking for someone with 5+ years of Sales experience and you’re a novice, it’s best to apply for a position that is suitable to your level of experience.

Mark Slack and Erik Bowitz, in the article ‘Beat the Robots: How to get your Resume past the robots and into human hands’, have some tips to help get your Resume seen by the right people.

Selecting the right format is an important consideration. The authors recommend using Word or a rich text format instead of PDF, as they are more easily read by applicant tracking systems (ATS). Similarly, select a standardised font such as Arial, Times New Roman or Courier for your Resume.

While it’s important to consider how your Resume looks from a design perspective, it’s more important to include keywords that relate to the role – as they are the words and phrases that the program will search for. It can be tricky to know exactly which keywords to use and the authors recommend using programs such as Wordle and TagCrowd to determine which keywords to include.

Another great piece of advice is to include the extended terms for any acronyms that you may use. While they may be familiar to you, they can be potentially confusing to recruiters.

The authors also recommend removing the ‘Career Objective’ section from the top of your Resume which is (let’s face it) prime real estate in your Resume. Instead of this, include a 6 line (or bullet point) qualification summary which is key-word rich, which the bots will love.

Need more help? Check out our guide on how to write a winning Resume.