How sophisticated are the algorithms used to parse job applications for the right attributes? Mightily so, but they are capricious, too. This Beat-the-Software advice, culled from various experts, should serve as a warning shot across the bow of employers and would-be employers equally. Does anyone benefit from a hiring process that turns on such small distinctions?
Don’t use headers or footers.
They jam most parsing algorithms.
Customize each resume based on language used in the job description. If the description says “CPA,” make sure “CPA” is on your resume. Don’t go too far, though: copying and pasting the job description won’t land you the gig.
Use conventional formats.
While fancy fonts, strange layouts, and functional formatting might impress an employer, computers hate them. Stick to a simplistic style and reverse chronological formatting.
Put it in context. Modern resume parsers check the context of buzzwords such as Java or C++, so if you want to seem different from the kid who took one “Java” class in high school, go more in depth about what you know and how long you’ve known it.
Submit your resume in text format. While .pdf might be convenient,
MS Word generally ensures the least parsing errors.
Never use graphics. Graphics always hamper the parsing process and generally show up as white noise to the algorithm. White noise is just what you don’t want.
Include your postal address.
Your address is often how your resume is filed. If you don’t include it, you might not get considered at all.
From Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, by Peter Cappelli, copyright 2012. Reprinted with permission of Wharton Digital Press.
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Illustration by Graham Roumieu