Writing a Resume That Can Make it Through the Hiring Software Threshold

jennifer Bjorkman | July-05-11

Resume to Make it through hiring software ECO Canada

It seems like centuries ago that candidates would personally drop off or mail in their resume. Now these actions might even get you deleted from the pile. It’s amazing how fast technology has changed the task of submitting a resume. Applying for a position has evolved through personal delivery, fax, email, attachments, and now to hiring software. And this can be even more intimidating then delivering your job application to a real person. What if you didn’t fill out the form properly? Can you leave a line blank? What do you write for salary information?

David Cadiente of Talentegg.ca explains hiring software further, and offers great tips for writing a resume to increase your chances of passing it through the hiring software threshold:

What is pre-screening software and what can it do?

Pre-screening software (also called hiring or recruiting software) stores job applicants’ information, including a computer-scannable copy of each candidate’s resumé and cover letter. For a job recruiter, the software cuts down a lot of work, says human resources professional Emily Candy.“Before, [recruiters] would have resumés emailed to an inbox and . . . print them all out,” says Candy. The resumés would then be read and sorted into piles: yes, no and maybe.Today’s software allows applicants to upload a copy of their resumé and cover letter, as either a Word document, a .pdf, or even pasted into a dedicated text box.

Advanced search capabilities and thresholds

Pre-screening software can also go a step further than old-school piles in a few ways. First, it can have applicants fill out a questionnaire in regards to the position. Questions can include “what are your salary expectations, do you have a post-secondary degree in journalism, are you eligible to work in Canada, where you live,” and “whether you have a car or license,” says Candy. Then, recruiters can set thresholds as they search through applicants. For example, Candy can see only candidates who answered more than five of the 10 questions the way they’d like. But, “as a recruiter you still have to be careful,” warns Candy, “because they’re not foolproof.”

And, second, with all the cover letters and resumés saved in their databases, recruiters can search for specific words, phrases and professional lingo. Candy admits she rarely uses the keyword search function (she mostly sticks to the pre-screening questions), but says she can search for broad skills such as “marketing,” to specific, niche experience like “e-commerce.”

Computer-friendly resumés and cover letters

The secret to a keyword-friendly resumé and cover letter is literally right before your eyes: the words in the posting’s job description. “Using the job description to your advantage [would be effective],” says Candy. “The company’s telling you what they’re looking for.”

Incorporating professional terms found in the posting, along with professional vocabulary you’ve picked up during your own working experience, will grab both the software’s and the job recruiter’s attention. But don’t get carried away – you can’t fool recruiters easily.

Once while reading over a resumé, Candy says she thought, “‘This looks great. We’re looking for all of this.’ But then I thought, ‘Wait, this looks familiar.’” The applicant had, in fact, copied and pasted the entire job description into one of her past jobs. The questionnaire’s pre-screening questions can also offer clues as to some of the important sticking points and responsibilities, which you can easily incorporate into your resumé and cover letter.

And one answer you can definitely be sure of is salary expectations (be honest and pragmatic when completing this portion – this is a job, not a lottery). If you’re unsure of what a fair salary or hourly wage might be, you can quickly reference websites such as PayScale.com or Salary.com.

Article originally posted on Talentegg.ca on December 10, 2010

What are your thoughts on hiring software? Do you have any advice for job seekers inputting their resume or cover letter? How effective do you think it is in helping employers find the ideal candidate?