Category Archives: Resume Tips

Applicant Tracking System Resume Tips

Hacking the Applicant Tracking System: Resume Tips to Get Your Resume Found

Follow these 5 Applicant Tracking System resume tips to make sure your InfoSec resume doesn’t automatically get kicked out of the screening process

Dear ‘FirstName’ Unknown ‘LastName’ Unknown,

I am a recruiter – today I spent hours sourcing from one of the many career websites/resume databases that you carefully created a profile and uploaded your resume. I read the profiles and created the perfect candidate pool of job seekers that I wanted to target. I downloaded the resumes from the resume database and for HR compliance I uploaded them to my Applicant Tracking System (ATS). To my dismay, this step usually results in 50% of the resumes being unreadable and you my favorite candidate is now “Unknown Unknown”. I researched what was happening and found one common thread among these sourced candidates. The top of their resumes stated:

– Note: This is a converted Word document. An image of the resume is displayed rather than text.

Keep in mind ATS systems are now used by most companies to meet HR compliance and handle the 100’s of applicants they receive on most job postings. Recruiters generally upload their sourced resumes to these systems to meet HR compliance requirements. ATS systems parse resumes and compare the data against criteria in the job posting through key words, screening questions, etc. Most resumes are only seen by humans if they are actually sourced or if they pass the initial screenings completed solely by the computer.

Unfortunately, if you are one of the InfoSec folks who have converted your resume to the Word image format, it will be lost once the recruiter uploads it to the ATS or it will not succeed in passing most ATS initial screenings. Usually this means you will receive a rejection letter automatically from the system once they make their final selection. So here’s what happens – most resume parsers in ATS systems do not have optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities, therefore your resume image is simple unreadable by the computer systems.

InfoSec Connect wants to help you modify your resume to ensure you are being considered based on your skill set and not your resume format. Algorithms designed to screen resumes are systematic and minor things can kick your resume out of consideration. The rules are simple:

  • DO NOT convert your resume to an image
  • DO NOT put your name and contact information in the document header
  • DO keep your resume format simple – try to avoid advanced formatting such as tables, unique fonts, images, etc.
  • DO Clearly label the resume sections with standardized headings (best to use headings from postings such as Qualifications, Experience etc.)
  • DO use the keywords that you identified in the job posting – keep in mind that most ATS systems use outdated SEO methods for the initial screening.

Now go update that resume and get past those initial screenings!

resume tips

A Recruiter Comes Clean: If Your Résumé Misses These Four Points, I May Not Even Look at It

This blog originally appeared here and is republished with permission.

Your résumé is your agent, your professional avatar in the job market, but if it doesn’t follow these resume tips, it may not make it past a recruiter’s first review. Like everyone else, recruiters’ tactics and tools are geared for efficiency. If you know how things work, you can optimize your résumé to maximize your chances.

  1. The Ten-Second Rule

If you are lucky, that’s about how much time your résumé has to catch a recruiter’s attention; however, if I spot a few key things, I’ll spend more time with it and look deeper.

I do like to see a précis of what you offer, right at the top of the résumé. “Précis” is the perfect word. Think of it as a tweet and keep it under 500 characters. An added bonus is that this is a good place to list some key skills that may not be mentioned elsewhere in your résumé.

Here’s an example:

“Results-oriented professional with 10 years of experience leading successful cross-functional teams in critical IT operations. Track record of success developing and implementing innovative solutions and efficiencies. Senior level champion of change with the people skills to gain consensus and buy-in on new processes. Proven ability to build and lead high performance teams to achieve and exceed goals.”

  1. Help the Search Engines Help You

Recruiters use search engines extensively, and optimizing your résumé will help it climb to the top of the search results. Marketing uses search engine optimization (SEO) and you’re marketing yourself, right? Under your précis, put a list of terms that characterize your talents and experience. If your terms match those I’m using to find candidates, chances are good that I’ll be looking at your résumé. Repeating key terms is good, as long as it doesn’t become obviously repetitive. In this example, for a sales professional, “sales” appears four times.

Consultative Sales · Account Management · B2B Sales · Negotiations · Relationship Management · International Business · Enterprise Sales · Networking · Prospecting · Pipeline Management · Leading Sales Teams · Salesforce.com 

  1. Leave the Fancy Stuff to Iggy Azalea

When I download your résumé into my applicant tracking system (ATS), a machine scans it in. If the formatting is too complex, it can work against you. For example, please do not capitalize your name, and it may look good to put spaces between each letter (such as “D U N C A N   T A Y L O R”), but the ATS is unlikely to scan it correctly. Columns and text boxes are not database-friendly, either. Your résumé can still be attractive without the window dressing.

  1. “Don’t Mistake Activity with Achievement”

That’s excellent advice from record-setting coach John Wooden. Titles, education and training are all great, but nothing out-classes accomplishments. For each company you list, provide a brief summary of the company’s mission and size to set the context. Follow that with a sentence or two about your key responsibilities. Now the meaty part: list three to six key accomplishments — goals you achieved or exceeded.

Include real numbers rather than percentages to help me assess the level of responsibility you’ve held. “Increased revenue by $50,000” is more insightful than, “increased revenue by 20%.” Other helpful numbers: the size of the team you led, the extent of the budget you managed, the revenue targets for which you were responsible.

  1. Free Bonus tips

  • Keep your résumé to two pages. No recruiter will read past that.
  • Put your education at the bottom, unless it’s directly relevant to the position you seek, such as a degree in Mechanical Engineering or an MBA.
  • Some recommend that you “tailor” your résumé to each application. However, be careful about over-customizing it if you want the company to consider you for other positions.
  • Make sure that you have a full LinkedIn profile with dates and information that matches your resume, we do cross reference.
  • This should go without saying, but you might be surprised at how many résumés have typos. Real example: “Attention to detale.” Proofread it yourself and then ask a friend to proofread it.

In short, to set your résumé up for success, simplify and streamline the formatting, and let your accomplishments speak for themselves . . . but make sure the language is clear and succinct.

By Duncan Taylor, Senior Recruiter,  Decision Toolbox
With Tom Brennan, Master Writer, Decision Toolbox

information security resume tips

10 Tips for Creating a Stand Out Information Security Resume

Let’s be honest – there are 100 million articles out there about how to write the best resume, right?  Right.  Well, after 20 years as a technical recruiter and nearly a decade of recruitment in information security, I know what makes a good resume in this industry.  Some of these tips are industry specific, some are (or should be) common knowledge.  Following these basic principles will ensure you have the right foundation to create a marketing piece (information security resume) that will catapult you into the next phase of your career. Continue reading 10 Tips for Creating a Stand Out Information Security Resume