Your Job Search, Your Resume, and Applicant Tracking Systems

Tending your resumeResume Role Reversal: Learn to represent the job description in your resume

It’s a wild job market right now.

Maybe you just discovered a listing for your dream job and submitted your resume, expecting to hear from a hiring manager. But instead, you get an automated response to your submission.

And then you get another automated response because your cover letter, resumes, and answers to 8 pages of questions didn’t get past the resume evaluation software or applicant tracking systems (ATS). What you get is an email that sounds something like this, “While your skills are impressive, we have decided to pursue other candidates. We appreciate your interest. Please follow us on social media.”

Want to fix that? Here’s how.

Identify perfect job descriptions

First, find three job descriptions that suit your career aspirations. Look for three that make you want to shout out, “I can do that for you.” The positions should be perfect fits for your career path. While location isn’t important, identifying roles that suit you is.

Find common denominators

Next, look for common denominator keywords. If all of the positions require “master’s degree,” “expertise in Excel,” “writing procedures,” and “workflow strategies” make sure that your resume uses that language to accurately describe your current skills. For all of the keywords that are repeated consistently across companies, mirror the same phrases in your resume.

The language in your resume should closely reflect how employers are identifying desired skill sets in the positions you are qualified for and are seeking. Remember, your resume needs to speak the same language that employers are using.

Get the skills you need

Finally, if you find you are lacking in something, for example, “expertise in Excel,” and all the positions you are attracted to require it, take a course, learn it, and try to find ways to use those skills in your current role or maybe as a volunteer. If the experience you lack isn’t something for which courses are readily available, then find a way to learn it by volunteering or serving on a committee. Find a way to gain the missing piece.

A word of caution: Never misrepresent a skill.

Research the skills. Match your skills. Capture the language. Land the job.