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Resume Screeners Are Here to Stay – How Can You Benefit?

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Technology is advancing rapidly with enhancements that help companies increase productivity and efficiency.  Automated Resume Screening tools are one of the largest recruiting technology breakthroughs over the last decade. While November’s Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll results make it clear that not all companies are screening resumes with artificial intelligence, it’s absolutely a trend that’s not going away; therefore, it’s important to understand its implications – for both recruiters and job seekers.


Open positions can get hundreds of applications.  Reading every resume could take hours.  Applicant Tracking Systems that automate the screening process save time, and make it possible to contact the top applicants faster – increasing the likelihood of a hire.

This technology should definitely be leveraged if you have a high volume of resumes coming in, but one important thing needs to be considered: computers aren’t perfect!  Your automated screener is programmed to scan resumes a certain way.  You may have a champion applicant who gets passed over because the resume formatting or file type doesn’t fit the Applicant Tracking System’s standards.  If you depend solely on the automated results, your future all-star could slip through the cracks and be lost forever.

Job Seekers

If you’re submitting your resume, always assume it will be screened by a computer.  That is not going to change, so your best strategy is to adapt.  Here are a few tips:

a computer with a face, arms and legs–       Customize your resume for each job.  That doesn’t mean just planting keywords from the job description into your resume, but providing details about how your experience relates directly to the job.   Resume screeners are intelligent enough to recognize not only keywords, but also the detail surrounding them.  For example, instead of searching for a specific technology or skill multiple times, your resume may be screened based on which technologies you used together or how many years of experience you have with a specific skill.

–       Think beyond the current application.  Most companies won’t dispose of your resume if you’re not a fit for the current position. Instead, your resume may go into a database which is searched for opportunities that may never be advertised.  You are more likely to show up at the top of a search by including more details and keywords.  In fact, you could use the principals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when writing your resume.  This post from July has a few tips that can help you get started.

–       Worry less about length.  The old rule-of-thumb was to keep resumes short.  In today’s electronic world, page length is immaterial.  If you’re certain your application is being filtered through an automated screening process, add in more details and worry less about length.

–       Keep it simple! Even a long resume must be simple to make it easy for computers to read.  Avoid tables or funny formatting and try to keep your resume in a simple file format, like MS Word.  Computers often have trouble reading PDF files.

–       Depend on more than your resume.  Don’t let your dream job pass you by because your application was lost in technology.  Take the time to follow-up with recruiters – they may take the time to personally review your resume out of curiosity.  Even better, be proactive and start building your network today!  Attend networking events and build relationships with recruiters at your favourite staffing agencies.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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