The Machine May Not Understand Your Resume
What happens when you click upload to send your resume for that job that could change your life? In some cases the answer is ‘not a lot’.
In fact in many cases resumes don’t even make it in front of the hirer, not because they are bad resumes for a human to understand but because a robot reads and analyzes the content in a very different way.
It was once said that a good recruiter or hiring manager could analyse a resume in a mere six seconds, which sounds like no time at all to make a good judgement, but actually its plenty of time to see if a resume is worth reading further. However, that sort of time is a millennium in comparison to how fast Artificial Intelligence reads and judges you.
More sophisticated platforms and sites such as Job.com, ZipRecruiter and Indeed.com all use a level of matching technology in order to speed up the shortlisting and ranking process. We can only speak for ourselves but our system has no problem matching 600 resumes to 3,000,000 jobs per second. Yes you read that right, three million jobs per second!
However, the way a robot, or ‘bot’ as we like to call them, reads your resume versus a hiring manager who wants to employ you, are two very different things and because of that, by no fault of your own, you may not even end up on the shortlist, despite your well matched skills and the great resume you have.
So this article is here to steer you past the machines and onto the desk of the hirers you want to work for.
Tip 1: Less is More
Now, before you think this as the opportunity to write a one-page resume, it isn’t. A lack of content is not what we mean. A sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) matching engine or simply the bot that is reading your resume, will read everything you give it, weight it, score it and match it. So if you have a long career history, for example over ten years, then do not feel compelled to put the last 15 ,20, 30 years experience in, as in reality that content will still be read by the machine. Such older career history, may weaken the concentration of what you actually do ‘now’ and it may even end up sending you roles that would have been relevant to you decades ago.
Great AI can date score your resume, knowing roughly the most recent experience from the past, however it still doesn’t stop the mild dilution that too much history can do when it comes to your ‘relevance’ according the bot. Including experience when you were at a much more junior level, the bar work you did in college or maybe a previous career path that you moved on from. This is going to do you no favors in making sure you end up in front of the employer you want today.
Our best advice is to go into detail about the last five years of your career and then a summary of the previous five years, giving a ten year overview. In reality, that’s the most your future employer needs to know in order to make a decision and if you wish to share more of your journey with them, save it for the interview, as that’s the opportunity to get to know each other better and show them who you really are.
Tip 2: Career Change
Lots of people get part way through their career and pivot from one sector to another, this is very normal. However, if your resume says you have been in marketing for the last ten years, the bot will struggle to find you that accounting job you are now looking for. Normally a cover letter would suffice in explaining to the hirer your circumstance but the reality is, with more applicants than ever, the bot does the shortlisting first and it normally doesn’t read any accompanying cover letters.
The solution is simple: Firstly include the cover letter explaining about the career you want and the change you are looking for within your resume. Secondly remove keyword emphasis from your previous career in your resume and talk more about the soft skills you have gained, which are applicable in any career.Thirdly if you have a new qualification that takes you forward in another career direction, make sure that information, with clear dates, is pride of place near the top of your resume so that both the bot and eventually the hirer will see your relevance instantly. Fourthly format is important but do not be shy to include your immediate future aspiration job titles within the resume underneath your new qualification or in the cover letter inserted in the resume. This way the bot will read these keywords and weight your resume towards the career you are looking for.
Tip 3: One for the Veterans
If you are a VET, firstly thank you for serving your country and secondly let us serve you with a small trick that will speed up and increase your chances of the bot putting your resume through to the hirer. You should include your MOS or AFSC code as long as you feel the experience is relevant to what you want to do now. Good AI, such as Job.com’s recognizes these code and all the relevant information around what you have done, instantly boosting your resumes relevance in that field.
Tip 4: Are you Creative?
Bots aren’t as good at taking resumes from creative career professionals that may have examples of visual work, so make sure that there are detailed descriptions surrounding these images and use this as the opportunity to get through the door with text and then show the hirer later what incredible things you create visually.
Tip 5: Masculine or Feminine
Sadly, some bots (but not Job.com’s) can have a slight bias against feminine language (we kid you not) and a perfect example of this was highlighted publically by Amazon when they scrapped their own AI job matching, as it was biased against women’s resumes. How can this happen we hear you cry? Well when technology is built mainly by a male technical workforce, it can be bias or weighted to masculine language, not a lot, but enough that you might not make the shortlist because of certain language within your resume. Sadly it’s still a glitch in some machines that are out there, so to make sure it doesn’t affect you, try focusing your language onto keywords relevant to the career title you want.
Things are different even from only a decade ago, bots are now doing the shortlisting, not humans. However, with that in mind, try to think like a robot to get your message across effectively and help get your resume passed that first technological gatekeeper. If you continue to submit resumes that worked in the past when they were being sympathetically read by a human, there is now a strong chance your resume will stay at the bottom of the pile, sadly it’s just the way it is.
At Job.com, we’re about getting people the career they want. Hopefully, taking into account the advice we have given you, you will now maximize your chances of getting the passed the bots and securing a even greater future.