It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words. Yet, according to Dr. Sharon Latchaw Hirsh of the University of Pittsburgh, many pictures are complex, mysterious, and challenging, requiring interpretation. Dr. Hirsh offers a series of lectures on how to understand and appreciate great art.
Did you know your resume is a picture OF a thousand words (more or less) that requires interpretive knowledge to evaluate your qualifications. According to some experts an estimated 72% of resumes are never seen by human eyes. Almost every employer asks its job candidates to submit an application into an electronic database. That application then passes through an Applicant Tracking System that filters out unqualified applicants and keeps those deemed qualified. The ATS is only as good as the information programmed into it. Unless, the company you are applying has a search engine capability similar to Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., that ATS will most likely filter out more then it filters in.
How can you make sure your picture of a thousand words gets viewed? There are resources available to job searchers that can assist in strategies and tactics to get your resume seen. One such resource is is Resunate and lifehacker.com. I found an article there entitled How Can I Make Sure My Resume Gets Past Resume Robots and into a Human's Hand? They show you how the screening process works and ways you can strengthen your resume to get into the hands of someone who can do something with it. This is great technical advice and I recommend you strongly consider it but if you really want your resume to be seen by a human being you need to go through and around the ATS. How do you do that?
First, don't be concerned about offending the ATS because after all it is a system and lacks human emotion. However, you need to respect it and do your best to satisfy the specifications for the position by demonstrating that your qualifications best match the requirements. That means you need a resume that paints a compelling story and becomes part of the 28% of resumes that get viewed by a human being.
Second, research the people in the organization where you are applying. There are over 130 million members on LinkedIn but they are not the only source of information. Dun and Bradstreet is another with over 200 million companies in its database and over 50 million professional contact names. Some of this information is free and some you might have to pay for you decide.
Third, make the world smaller. Use your network of contacts, including secondary and tertiary contacts to find someone connected to the people in the organization you are applying who can refer you. I have said this before but will say it again because I know it is difficult to grasp. I have almost 9 million people in my network. That is more than the number of people who live in New York City. I am still wrapping my head around this. We all need to learn how to effectively manage our contacts.
Lastly, THINK about the message you are sending. Don't make it too complex, mysterious or challenging to understand. The majority of humans you hope will read your resume are not trained to appreciate great art. If your resume requires too much interpretation you will have only succeeded with getting your resume to a human. The most important part is for that human being to say this picture is worth the thousand words.