Battle the Bot: How to get Your Resume Read by a Real Human Being

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Did you know that nearly 75% of resumes are never seen by human eyes? An increasing number of companies are adding an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) each year, as it can sort through hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes in the time it takes a hiring manager to get through a handful. The good news is that it’s fairly easy to get through the system and have your resume seen by an actual human being, as long as you follow these four tips:

Include Relevant Keywords Throughout Your Resume

An ATS will scan the entirety of your resume and check to make sure you included specific keywords from the Job Ad. These keywords can include everything from required skills and experience, to specific job titles and certifications. It’s worth noting that modern ATS also pay attention to how each keyword is used in the flow of the resume (and cover letter), so if a keyword seems out of place it may be rejected. Each keyword should belong where it is written, so sprinkling them randomly throughout your resume will send out a red flag.

Stick to Traditional Font and Layout Choices

While new fonts and layouts are being added all the times, the classics work the best when it comes to your resume getting through the system. Fonts like Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet, and Verdana in 10 to 12-point size are all ATS-friendly, as are traditional resume layouts that come standard on most word processing programs. A quick note on bullet points: avoid using special characters or accents on bullets. Most tracking systems have a problem reading them, and they may introduce line breaks or coding that will confuse it.

Avoid Graphs and Tables

While adding charts, graphs, or tables to your resume may seem like a way to add clarity to your resume, Applicant Tracking Systems are not good at reading them. In fact, they tend to read them as stray words or symbols, which can cause the system to automatically reject it. Stick with “standard” resume designs with simple formatting to ensure it is machine readable.

Avoid Slang and Overly Uncommon Abbreviation

Applicant Tracking Systems aren’t very good at recognizing slang, so resist the urge to use acronyms you used around the office for a task and instead try and use a description that can be easily understood. This is especially true if you are referring to a keyword used in the Job Ad itself. If you are highlighting a skill, use the words that were used in the ad, and if in doubt, go with the actual name of the item you are highlighting, such as using “Microsoft Word” instead of just putting “Word.” In addition, avoid uncommon abbreviations, and if something is commonly abbreviated list both the full word and the abbreviation. For instance: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

The One Tool Every Job Seeker Needs in their Arsenal

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Looking for a tool that will add a new dimension to your job search? Partnering with a (free) employment service, like AppleOne, will enhance your job search and provide you with the personalized assistance that every job seeker needs. Here are the three most important ways that an employment service will help you:

Develop a Better Understanding of What Local Employers Are Seeking

The “X-factor” that can you get a job at one employer may be a turnoff to another one. Knowing what specific companies are looking for in your area will help you get you the job you are targeting. AppleOne Hiring Advisors track local and national employment trends. Because they work with specific employers, they can give you valuable insights into how best to present yourself for a particular job.

Stronger Resumes and Cover Letters

The average hiring manager takes only eight seconds to look over your resume to decide whether to call you in for an interview. That is if you can get past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that they use to cut down the initial job pool. An employment service knows what employers are looking for in cover letters and resumes, and they can help you craft something that will get past the computers and catch the manager’s eye.

Access to Jobs That Aren’t Posted on Job Boards

Did you know that up to 85% of all available jobs are never posted on online job boards? Because of the costs associated with hiring and advertising, many of these jobs are actually never even available to the public, as companies look to sources like AppleOne to handle the hiring for them. This means an employment service can help you apply for jobs you would have not found otherwise. These are jobs that aren’t looking for a pool of applicants, but only the ones they want to either interview or hire on the spot.

Get into the Secret Job Market for an Amazing Career

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You can easily find thousands of jobs online. It’s quick and easy to apply, but they all produce hundreds of applicants. How can you possibly compete with that? Big job boards have a place in every job search strategy, but you also need to get into the secret job market to find the jobs that 99% of your competition will never even see.

Focus on Where You Want to Work, Not Who Appears to Have Job Openings

Since “secret” jobs need to be discovered, narrow your focus to the companies that you really want to work for. Make a list of 20-25 companies,  and start developing a plan to secure a job with them. Use you networks, or your parent’s networks, to find people who work for your target employers. Ask your AppleOne hiring advisor for access to our Navigating the Hiring process guide, which contains scripts for how best to reach out to these people. During your meeting be sure to ask if they know of any jobs that might be right for you and find out who else they think you should contact.

Attend Those Marketing Events That Are On Campus

Do you see flyers around campus or in the career center that advertise a networking event or a guest speaker from a company of interest? These are events you need to attend. Yes, they allow you to meet other people who have similar career interests, but they also allow you to meet people in person that can help you identify jobs before they become public. Never miss an opportunity to meet someone who has connections, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions, or even hit them with an elevator pitch regarding what you are looking for. You’d be surprised how many interviews and hiring’s start with a simple handshake.

Build Up Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn can help you in two distinct ways. First, it allows you to grow and nurture a network of professionals that can alert you to new job openings, while giving you advice on how to secure them. Second, it can help you identify and connect with people who work at, or with, your target employers. The latter will help you get an interview even before the job is discussed externally.

Make It Personal: Use the Phone or Introduce Yourself in Person

Email and texts have their place, but they aren’t always the best choice for a job search. Let your personality shine by picking up the phone to talk to a human being at your target companies. This makes you harder to ignore, and gives you an opportunity to ask follow up questions, and even develop a relationship with the person on the other side of the phone. If you feel extra confident, you can do your inquiries in person, which allows you to put an immediate face to the name. In both cases, have your resumes ready to go, and have your elevator pitch down pat.

 

 

How Giving Back Will Help Move You Forward

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There are many ways to increase your chances for a successful job search, but there are few as rewarding as volunteering. Whether it’s a few days a week or just a few hours on a free Saturday, here are three ways giving back will help you move forward in your job search.

Make Great Connections

Studies have shown that you are up to 7% more likely to get a job when you know someone at the company you are applying to. These numbers skyrocket when you are referred by someone in Management. Volunteering is a great way to both meet people who are already employed, and to interact with local companies that will volunteer as groups. By working hand-in-hand with these individuals in a team environment, you won’t just be able to gain valuable connections for your job search, but they will also get to see you in action. This will make an impression on them that they will remember when it comes time to reach out to them.

Learn New Skills

Hiring managers like to read resumes where a candidate’s skills are shown through tangible experience. Volunteering is a great place to learn new skills that can be added to your resume. Whether you are able to learn a new computer program, or you take the lead on a warehouse project, this type of experience will add to your skill repertoire.

Fill Job Gaps and Beef Up Your Resume

If the work and experience you acquire while volunteering is relevant to the job you are applying for, you should include it on your resume. These additions to your job history can be especially beneficial to those who are currently out of work, as it can fill in what would otherwise be a job gap. Hiring managers want to see that you were being proactive while you were out of work, and a regular volunteering gig shows them that you were active while looking for a new job. Even if you are currently employed, volunteering on the weekend or evenings will make you seem like a more rounded candidate when the time does come to move on with your career.

To Drop Or Not To Drop: Will a Low GPA Ruin Your Job Prospects?

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: you start the semester with a packed schedule, get a few subpar grades in one of the classes and then wonder as the last day to drop approaches whether it’s worth it to tough it out and try for a C or cut your losses and drop it. Just what will that C do to your future job prospects? Here are some things to consider when it comes to making this decision.

Your GPA Won’t Be An Issue Over Time, But It May Be Considered When You Initially Graduate

In the long term, most employers won’t be interested in your GPA. Proven skills and experience often trump other factors when it comes to hiring, so your GPA will not be a factor once you have a hearty resume under your belt. If your grades are impressive, then including GPA on your resume can help set you apart and may be used as a tiebreaker. So, if you have an impressive GPA, you should add it to your resume, but if you don’t, most employers won’t ask for it or wonder why you left if off. It’s also possible to be creative about how you present your GPA. Perhaps your Major GPA is higher than your general studies GPA, or perhaps your final year’s GPA is impressive.

Certain Job Sectors Care More About GPA Than Others

A good GPA is never a bad thing to have; there are some job sectors where it may factor more into hiring than others. For instance, a high GPA can be a valuable asset when it comes to breaking into the legal, accounting, or medical field. On the other hand, in job sectors like sales, customer service, and creative arts, your raw talent is bound to get more attention than your grades.

It Could Matter for Graduate School

If you are considering graduate school, GPA may have a greater effect on whether you can get into your target schools. The school you go to may also affect your career prospects, so it’s worth keeping that in mind when considering the impact of tweaking your schedule to achieve the highest possible GPA.

 

Busy Life? How to Gain Job Skills When You Don’t Have a Lot of Free Time

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Thanks to technology and changing market demands, job requirements are evolving at a breakneck pace. The skills that got you a job three years ago may not be enough to get an interview today, so you need to adapt and learn new skills to stay competitive. However, between jobs and family and other commitments, who has the time? Here are three expert tips that will help even the busiest person learn the new skills you need.

Find Online Courses That Can Fit Into Your Schedule

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites and online programs that are dedicated to teaching you skills specific for your field. While you may not have four hours at a time to complete a program, you may be able to do it in 20-minute increments. Also, be on the lookout for online colleges that offer classes with downloadable lectures and online testing, as they can not only teach you skills, but also give you written documentation of your achievements.

Make It a Part of Your Current Job

Many companies and bosses encourage learning and personal development because they recognize it makes employees happier as well as more effective and productive. Identify the skills you need, find a class that will help you gain those skills, and determine the time required to complete the class. Then present a plan to your boss for how you can fit that time into your current workload. Chances are, your boss will be thrilled to see you taking the initiative, and if it’s a paid course, they may even pick up the cost.

Prioritize and Calendar Your Key Commitments

There’s a saying that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it. Very busy people have very detailed calendars that help them get everything done. A quick look at your personal calendar will show that you do have pockets here and there where you can fit in segments of training. You may find that you have an hour before bed to dedicate to learning, or a few hours on the weekend. Block off these times and find a program that you can fit into it. Don’t try and multitask your training with other items, plan to take that scheduled time to focus on learning.

Going For Gold: How Thinking Like A Superstar Athlete Will Get You The Job

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A world-class athlete will tell you that, when they think of big moments, they visualize winning. Whether it’s inching out the competition for a Gold Medal, or sinking the game-winning shot with one second left on the clock, successful athletes don’t have times for “what ifs” in their outcomes. When it comes to a job search, having the same positive outlook will help you towards success. Don’t worry about “if” you’ll get a job, visualize yourself getting it. This way, you won’t need to worry about the outcome, but rather how you are going to get there. Here are three things to remember when it comes to conducting a job search without worrying about the outcome (because you know you’ll succeed):

Work Backwards: Know Your Goal and Identify Steps That Will Take You There                              

A successful sprinter doesn’t worry about the outcome of a race; they instead focus on the steps that they will take to the top step of the podium. When you are applying for a job, don’t worry about the outcome. Instead identify what you have to do to get there. Working backwards from your goal allows you to work out the steps logically. Start from the last part of the process, accepting a job offer, and look at what goals you have to hit to get there. For example, a job offer comes from a great interview, which you will get by submitting a resume that matches the position, which will be seen if you can work your network to get it to the right people. By the time you lead all the way back to the beginning of your search, you’ll know how to move forwards towards a successful outcome.

Turn a Perceived Weakness Into a Strength

When Kobe Bryant missed a game-winning shot, he would stay long after the rest of the team left the arena to work on that shot.  After losing a race in 2012 by less than .1 second, Michael Phelps changed his training to include high-altitude workouts to help his closing speed.  All athletes have weaknesses, but world-class athletes work to turn their weaknesses into strengths. There are going to be parts of your resume that you may perceive as a weakness. Instead of just hoping you get a job despite them, do something about it. If you don’t have certain skills you see in ads, take an online class to learn them. If you don’t have a lot of experience, take temp jobs to learn on the job. If you feel like something is holding you back, don’t shy away from it, do something about it.

As Long as You Keep It Up, You’ll Succeed

Dan Jansen was considered one of the best speed skaters in the world and was a lock at the 1988 winter games for a medal. He fell in both events. In 1992 he was a gold medal favorite again in his two events. He again failed. In 1994, he finally won gold in his last-ever event. It may have taken him longer than he would have liked, but he achieved his goal. Job searches don’t always go as planned. They have setbacks. They have rough patches. But if you stay positive and keep moving forward, you’ll get there. If you fall down, you’ll come back the next time. If you didn’t get a job, you’ll get the next one. The outcome should never change in your mind, even if you have to adjust the path a little bit.