What you need to know about resume-reading software

The following is an excerpt from my new book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which is currently available on Amazon Kindle and will be available in hard copy from the 15th September 2015 on Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia and Fishpond among others.  If you want an easy-to-read, no-nonsense and practical guide to job search, written by someone who understands job loss and search, this book is for you. Enjoy!


Dr Smith‘Unhand me, you mechanical moron.’
—Dr Zachary Smith, Lost in Space

It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to use what is known as applicant tracking software (also known as talent recruitment systems) to receive, analyse and sort resumes submitted for roles advertised online, which, according to latest statistics, is about ninety percent of advertised roles. Some of the more common ATS providers include Bullhorn, Zoho Recruit and Taleo.

Understandably, when an organisation receives hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for roles, it can be tedious to screen, let alone read, all their resumes. ATS automates the process and replaces the human screen with a software program. In many respects this is not a bad thing as it increases the objectivity of the screening process. Plus, the software can work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

ATS looks for keywords in the submitted resume in order to match the candidate to the relevant role, generally eliminating about seventy-five percent of candidates during the first cull. Keywords can even include the names of schools or universities attended, previous employers that are deemed attractive, and of course the skills and experience required by the hiring organisation.

The use of ATS is largely limited to large recruiters and businesses; however, cloud-based systems are becoming more affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. In Australia, companies using ATS include IGA, Oracle (which produces the Taleo system), Chandler McLeod, Miele, Sydney Water, Kelly Services and Mitsubishi.

If you apply for a role on a company website and are required to fill in your details as well as uploading, and copying and pasting your resume, there’s a good chance you’re going into an ATS. Often this process can be frustratingly long and tedious; however, if you really want the job that should give you enough incentive to get through it.

So, how can you create a resume that can be read by a robot? The best way to get an ATS to notice your resume is to anticipate the keywords or phrases the system will be trying to find for the role. This further reinforces your need to ensure that your resume is adapted to, or relevant for, the role you’re interested in. If you don’t tailor your resume in this way, there’s a very good chance it won’t be attractive to the ATS and will be among the many resumes culled as not being a good match for the role.

Brevity is best; ensure that only information relevant to the role is included. Put keywords in the summary at the top of your resume, use plain fonts, and avoid graphics and tables, both of which ATS systems can’t read.

If you want to see how your resume aligns to a stated job description or advertisement, there’s a great site called Jobscan (www.jobscan.co). All you need to do is copy and paste your resume in one field, the job description in the other, hit the analyse button and see the results. It will give you a percentage match rate with a skills comparison. You can use this information to further modify and update your resume so it’s a better match for the advertised job.

Thanks for reading about resume-reading software!  If you liked this information, you can receive many more tips and hints on effective job search for mature job seekers by purchasing the eBook on Amazon by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s


Are you making this critical mistake on your resume?


Let’s talk about the resume, whose fundamental purpose is to get you to an interview…Of course, once you get to an interview you are one step closer to a job. Unfortunately, most of us in job search struggle to get to interviews and often wonder why.


The resume is your professional calling card which outlines companies you have worked for, in what roles, for what duration as well as your education and professional development among other things. While it is important to adapt your resume for each job you apply for (apparently only around half of job applicants do this), that’s really only half the story.

The single most important thing to include on your resume are achievements.

Achievements should be related to the work you have done in each role and ideally matched up against the requirements of the job you are applying for (e.g. If the advertiser is looking for someone with great stakeholder management, you should include several achievements pertaining to this in your resume).

Many clients I see as a career coach fail to include achievements in their resumes and only include responsibilities or tasks they ‘did’ in each role. This is a critical mistake. There are many financial analysts, marketing managers and other roles out there, all of whom fundamentally do the same tasks. However, what most resumes miss is how well you did the job, or what value you added and what problems you solved. Achievements can relate to things like:

  • Cost savings
  • Productivity improvements
  • Systems or procedures you developed that helped the business
  • Innovative solutions to existing problems (e.g. a new procedure)
  • Major sales closed
  • A promotion (and the reasons for it, such as excellent performance)
  • Significant achievements (e.g. Employee of the Year; President’s Club)

“Achievements on your resume make you stand out because they raise interest for the reader.  They indicate the value you have added and the problems you have solved in your last organisation and which makes you an attractive candidate.  So attractive, employers will want to ask you in for an interview!”

For each role on your resume going back 8-12 years (current roles most interviewers are interested in), in addition to adding your responsibilities or the essence of what you did in the job (5-7 bullet points), make sure you add 3-5 achievements pertaining to that role.

When developing your achievements, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure they are brief – No more than 2 to 2.5 lines.  Too long and they become wordy and difficult to read during a first, cursory review of your resume
  • Try and incorporate situation, solution and outcome or benefit of each achievement
  • Quantify if you can.  Use percentages, numbers, or currency ($) figures.  This not only gives your achievement some scale, but also makes the achievement stand out.  If there’s a number on a page of text, our eyes will find it very quickly, so including numbers in your achievement, will draw the reader to your achievement.

What are some examples of strong achievements?

  • Designed, implemented and managed an inventory management system that saved $100K in the first year of operation
  • Automated an existing employee induction process which contributed to reducing early tenure turnover by 25%
  • Received the IT Manager of the Year award in 2014 for leading the X system upgrade which was delivered on time and under budget by 10%
  • Developed a customer focused culture in the call centre team which saw customer satisfaction (CSAT) rise from 2.8 to 4.2 on a 5 point scale in 12 months

Make your resume stand out for all the right reasons by adding achievements and you’ll see the immediate difference this will make in getting you to interviews.

For any assistance with career coaching covering resumes, interview skills, LinkedIn profiles or networking, contact Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.

5 ingredients for a great resume

What makes a great resume?  What ingredients differentiate a strong resume from a weak resume, or one that gets you an interview versus one that doesn’t?

For many it is about cramming as much ‘stuff’ as possible about ourselves into the document in the mistaken belief that the more information provided, the better the outcome….Wrong!

Others think that simply outlining what they did in each job by way of responsibilities or tasks will help them get to interview…Wrong!

Most people who review resumes would rather do anything else and see it as a necessary evil.  I regularly recall as both a hiring manager and HR professional having to begrudgingly look through piles of resumes at my dining room table late at night or if I was travelling, in some nondescript hotel room over a cold club sandwich and a diet coke following a 12 hour work day.  I would normally only spend 15 – 30 seconds deciding whether a resume went on the ‘yes, I may be interested to interview you’ pile or not.  My mindset, tiredness and general disdain at looking at resumes resulted in a fast and cursory review.

Bottom-line:  People are generally not in the best frame of mind when reviewing resumes and nor do they spend extended time reading them, so please make it easy for them to discern if you are worthy of an interview! Remember, the only purpose of the resume is to get you to an interview…Nothing more and nothing less!

Here are some tips to help the beleaguered resume reviewer (and you):

  1. Keep your resume to 3-4 pages maximum   I won’t read your 8 page tome, so don’t even try it!
  2. Use a font and font size I can actually read without an electron microscope – Typical fonts like Calibri and Arial are best and can be read relatively easily at font size 10 or 11.  If you are unsure, see if you can easily read  your resume in a dimly-lit room. Don’t use tiny fonts!
  3. Use white space Don’t give me blocks of text outlining everything you’ve done in your career!  Give me the highlights and how you match what I am looking for.
  4. Demonstrate your value by using achievements, with quantifiable outcomes if you can (Critical) – I may not believe you if you state you are ‘good at inventory management’, however I will be interested when you tell me about initiating, developing and implementing an inventory management system that saved your last company $100K.  Good achievements align with the problems I face at my company and I want someone who can solve these for me.  Let me know what you’ve done and pique my interest enough to call you in for an interview.
  5. Relevance and matching – Anything on your resume should be supportive of your ability to do the advertised job.  If it isn’t remove it!  So, you’ve traveled to 27 countries?  Impressive, but it counts for nought in applying for my job. That pottery course you completed must have been interesting, but it won’t help you solve my sales issues.  Match your experience and results with my needs and I am interested to find out more!

Resumes are probably the most subjective documents on the planet and it seems like everyone has an opinion on what they should contain and how they look.  However, following the above points will be of great assistance to get through the initial screening process and to an interview.

If you require assistance in career coaching covering topics such as resume preparation, interview skills, fear-free networking or the development of a LinkedIn profile, Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) can assist.  You can contact Paul by clicking here for an obligation free chat to see how he can help you in job search.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.