• Junction Collective

Get your resume past the robots

A great article in the Wall Street Journal talks about how to Make Your Job Application Robot-Proof and it’s exactly what I tell candidates who don’t realize (or don’t believe me) when I tell them that a human is not reading their resume first. 


Here’s what happens:


  • Most screening tools disqualify applicants if they don’t meet or match the most basic requirements. It then will list the others in a ranked order based on meeting and fitting the job specs. An employer will then look at those who scored over xx% and start there. 

  • These tools most definitely cause employers to miss qualified candidates

  • Many times, you will not know when a system is in use and you will apply for many jobs and never hear back


How do you know when you’re in the system?


  • Look for a vendor logo in the browser nav bar that lists the company name your applying to with another vendor name you may not recognize. Common ones include: Lever, Taleo, Bullhorn, Greehouse

  • Hovering your cursor over the submit button shows the URL where your application is being sent

Once you know you’re in a tracking system here’s your first line of defence:


1. Spice up your resume with specific on-the-job results

RESULTS!!!! I say this all the time and can’t stress it enough. Include actual real and measurable results - that you contributed to - connecting back to your work and performance. Increased traffic from x to y? Increased sales from $xx to $xx? Improved something somewhere!? List it please. It will help with the robots and also with the recruiters. 


2. Use meaningful job titles

Does your company call you a “Digital Overlord” or “Wizard of Light Bulb Moments”? That’s wonderful but no one else will know what that means. Make your job title on your resume something that is universal and that the robots (and recruiters) will understand. Bonus if you also match this to your LinkedIn profile. Make it consistent!


3. Tailor your choice of words to match companies’ requirements

Yes, this means tailoring each and every resume for each and every job application. No one ever wants to do this. But it is essential and will help get you past the robot overlord. Bonus: develop an organized naming convention for all these resumes:


YourName_CompanyName_JobTitle and store them in folders organized by date. You will then be able to find them all very easily when you need to refer back for the interview.


Some other simple tips (thanks WSJ) that will not only help get you past the robots but will also help you with your overall job search:


  • Network to build contacts inside the company who will put in a good word for you.

  • Use a text-based app like Word for your online application, rather than a PDF or other format.

  • Include in your resume keywords and phrases from the employer’s job posting.

  • Quantify past results, citing dollars earned or other stats.

  • List job titles in a way that shows increasing responsibility and status.


There is a system that is in use so make sure you know how to work within it! Build your plan to work within the system. Good luck!


A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn in December 2019. It was written and re-edited by Joanne Acri.


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