The 21st century job search has brought on new challenges that our 20th century contemporaries did not have to navigate. One of them is that our job search documents often have to traverse a digital terrain before getting to a human audience for a decision. According to Capterra, an application tracking system reviews company, as many as 75% of large companies use an ATS and 70% of resumes submitted are never even seen by the target employers.

Why is this?

Well, time is money, right? It is estimated that a small company with only 8 employees can save as much as $10,000 in labor using an ATS. So, how should you approach your resume in terms of writing strategy?

First, when in doubt, start off by writing for the human audience. Shoot for brevity, proper flow, and ease of comprehension. A winning resume delivers a potent message in a succinct fashion. We must focus on message delivery first, and adjust for situational navigation after crafting our message. Remember, you have to get through both stages to win the game, and the ATS will not be the decision maker. 

Now, once you have written a resume that delivers its conceptual payload efficiently, it is time to see what we can do to account for our digital audience (the ATS). Research common key words and phrases that a hiring authority is likely to use when searching their database for viable applicants.

Once you have amassed those, go back through the resume and see where those can be integrated. But you want to make certain keywords are integrated organically and that your resume does not begin to read like one simply attempting to “beat the system.”

Be sure the new words and phrases are not integrated in such a way as to disrupt the flow of the message or create awkward phrasing structure. Don’t get caught up in the temptation to “keyword stuff” the resume. If you do, the resume may get past the ATS, but the human hiring manager won’t be happy at all. And it will all be for nothing.

The average number of applications received for jobs in 2021 was 250. Using the earlier stat of 70% of resumes not even making it to human eyeballs, that means only 75 get viewed, and perhaps only 20% of those end up being interviewed. Don’t get caught up thinking “nah, this is good enough” when it isn’t. Do it right, or get some help with that resume.

Or, you can watch your savings slowly dwindle to nothing. 🤦‍♂️