I’m not a big fan of applying for jobs through the applicant tracking system. It’s called the black hole for a reason. But if you’re going to do it anyway, make sure that you know the fixed focus to get your resume through the system.


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I'm Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I'm a career coach, I do leadership coaching as well. I'm a former recruiter so I have a perspective on job search that comes from real world, not from a being a resume writer trying to persuade you to buy additional services from me.

And I want to talk with you about the applicant tracking system, because I think it makes a difference for those of you who don't take my advice and insist on applying through the ATS. And I'll just start by saying I'm not a fan of the applicant tracking system, because it is called the black hole for a reason. But if you are going to do it, if you are going to not follow my advice about networking your way to a hiring manager, let me at least try to help. Okay?

So the first thing you need to focus on are relevant keywords for the role. This is . . . starts off with the premise that you need to tailor resumes for individual jobs. And if you roll your eyes up in your head and say, "I'm not going to do that. It's too much work," you're back to "the broken watch is, right twice a day" philosophy-- sometimes your resume is going to work. Many times it won't. You're going to be going "Hey, how come they didn't contact me," and it's because you were lazy, or you didn't make the fit obvious for the system, let alone for the person behind the system.

So the way to do that is, if you've got a job description, look at the relevant terms that they're looking for in terms of skills, and functionality. So hard skills, you know, soft skills, and stick with those, I'm not looking for things like "team player." But if there's a technology that you've used, or a function you've performed, you want to include that in the resume in their language, so that it's obvious to them because they're busy, and the systems are parsing tons of resumes.

Number two, a job title that relates to the job description. So if you're a manager and you're trying to take a step down to get to work, having the manager title there is going to cause you to get your resume rejected. Conversely, if you're a junior programmer, level four, that isn't going to necessarily correlate in the system's mind to a programmer, level three or a manager because many of you submit resumes because the skills are there. But you're too Junior. Think in terms of your title being important as well.

Number three is do you have any particular certifications where your work has been acknowledged and you've trained for this. So include those certifications. And number four, whatever the educational requirements are, or beyond, make sure those are included as well.

Fundamentally, you want to make sure that a system and the person can see the fit in a few seconds. Maybe you know the statistic that recruiters look at a resume and make a decision within six seconds. You have to operate in that way and make the fit obvious within one page down at most, one page down. And when you're using the keywords, yes, you could stuffed them along the top, but you need to integrate them into the body of the resume as well. Multiple times ideally for the keywords that are relevant for the role. Without making it seem like you're just throwing crap in there.

Hope you found this helpful. I'm Jeff Altman. My website is TheBigGameHunter.us; go there. There's a lot in the blog that you can explore. I'd love to help you. Also at the site. I've got my courses, I've got books that I've written on job search. You can also order mock interviews through me as well, where you can practice online and I'll review your responses later. It has made a difference for a lot of people. Lastly, connect with me on linkedin at Linkedin.com/in/TheBigGameHunter.

Have a terrific day and be great! Take care!


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website, www.TheBigGameHunter.us

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