So you’re in the market for a new job. You log in to the ol’ Job.com account, run a few job searches, see a few jobs you like, and then you apply to them. But what is actually involved in your application process? Did you happen to review the resume you’re sending along to make sure that it’s relevant to the job you’re applying to? Did your application contain a list of recent job duties and functions that align with specific criteria provided in the job ad? If you didn’t, there’s a good chance that your resume and application will be screened out by a computer before a hiring manager even gets a chance to review it.
These days, most companies are using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan a candidate’s resume and application to ensure that they have the skills and qualifications required to do the job. The old, one-size fits all resume of your past will no longer be effective when trying to land a new job. This means that every application and resume you submit for a job should be custom tailored to point out your skills and experience that qualify you for the position at hand.
It’s absolutely o.k. to work off of one resume template, but to improve your chances of making it past an ATS’s screening filters, each resume and application should be tweaked to contain keywords that identify you as a strong candidate for the role. A good way to craft a resume that passes the applicant screening test is to take specific phrases from the actual job description and weave them in to your application and/or resume. For example, if a job ad lists that a candidate must have strong knowledge of MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and you have those skills, be sure to include this in the Skills/Qualifications section of your resume.
It may seem daunting at first, but after applying to several jobs in related fields, you may find that you’re repeatedly using just a few, refined resumes throughout your job search process. You can also speed up your application process by saving those that get pushed out to employers so you can simply work off of previous applications as you create new ones.
In addition to a keyword rich resume and application, providing a well-written cover letter can also increase your chances of being noticed by employers. The cover letter is your opportunity to explain why you’re a great fit for the job. It should clearly and consicesly provide examples of some work related achievements that have prepared you for this new role.
So what do you do after you’ve applied to a job with your fine tuned cover letter, resume, and application? Follow up, of course. Once you’ve located the company’s contact information online, give them a call and asked to be connected to the HR department so you can follow up on your application. This way, the employer will know you’re serious about the position, and in many cases, will provide you with an update on where they stand in the hiring process.
Remember that searching for a job is a full time job. Continue working to improve your resume and remain positive at all times. By staying proactive in your search, you’ll be sure to find a job you’ll love.
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