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3 Steps to Fine-Tuning Your Job Search

Hand holding a vibrating tuning fork, isolated on whiteMore and more companies are using Application Tracking Systems (ATS) when looking for the perfect candidate to fill their open positions. The ATS will scan resumes for key words and phrases that the employer has requested. Some employers might have even set parameters for what they would consider an ideal candidate even if they don’t have related work experience.

These systems work by sorting the data on resumes by meaningful content and scoring them based on specific data that the company deems important. You will never see the score you get, but they are then submitted to the company along with your resume. The resumes with the highest scores are viewed first.

I bet you’re now thinking, “So with all this new technology, how is anyone supposed to find a job if we don’t know what a company is searching for?”

It’s actually just the opposite. The company is telling you EXACTLY what they are looking for in the job posting. It’s about adapting your resume and cover letter each time to fit the job requirements. Use key words that are in the job description that employers have said are important.

Too often, candidates want to put everything they have done in the past and list every skill that they have on their resume just so that the tracking system will catch it.  This is a double-edged sword for an employer.  Your resume may have all the key words that they are looking for, but when they pull up your resume, it is overloaded and hard to understand. Too much information can be just as bad as not enough.

Yes, adjusting your resume for every job you apply for is a pain.  There I said it.  So now what? It doesn’t change the fact that your resume serves one purpose – to get you an interview.  Your resume is NOT the interview itself.

Take these 3 steps to adjust your resume BEFORE submitting it to an employer:

Step 1 – Change your Professional Summary when you apply for each job.  Adapt how you reference yourself by using some of the key words within the job description. The employers are giving you descriptive words, so don’t get creative.

Step 2 – Summary of Skills.  These should be specific learned skills, not skills that are expected of every employee.  For instance, avoid using “Good Communication” or “Punctual.”  If you have to tell someone you’re punctual, you’re probably not. Instead, try something like: “Wrote and distributed weekly email newsletter,” or “Presented research findings to executive team and responded to concerns, resulting in a change in strategy.”

Step 3 – Have a professional read your resume.  Bryan University’s Career Services Department does this for a living.  We speak to employers daily and know what they are looking for on a resume.  They often provide specific feedback on resumes that they have seen so we can tailor the resumes to fit their needs.

Also, don’t apply for anything and everything.  We understand the need to have a job is important.  We understand people need a job to survive and sometimes are willing to accept anything.  Except in doing so, you get more and more frustrated that you are not getting any calls.  It is a vicious cycle. You’ll have more success with your job search if you follow the previously mentioned 3 steps.

If you need assistance with your job search or resume preparation and review, please feel free to reach out to Bryan University’s Career Services Department at (602) 384-2613 or email us at and together we can partner with you to help you find employment.

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