Why December Might Be The Best Time To Be a Job Seeker

Have you been told that the holiday season, especially around Christmas and New Year’s, is not the best time to look for work?

Well, before you shut down for the holidays, you may want to consider this: December can be the ideal time of the year to look for work.

Here’s why.

Less Contest

People are often too busy pretending to love their in-laws during the holidays to apply for jobs. This actually plays to the December job-seeker’s benefit–with less people applying for jobs, it’s far easier to stand out from the crowd and really make an impression on the hiring manager.

Don’t fall into the trap of waiting until January to submit applications; December can be the ideal time of the year to get hired.

Companies Have Money To Spend

It’s pretty common for organizations to have a good chunk of money to spend at the end of the year. Towards the end of the year, money left over from the budget is often spent before January to ensure they receive the same amount of funding. This is called the “use it or lose it” rule.

December in particular is a time where budgets can be in excess, and hiring managers will want to put that money to good use. Take advantage of this fact by putting yourself out there late in the year.

Networking Is Easy

The holidays are an excellent time to network. There’s no lack of Christmas activities to keep you rubbing elbows with new connections and reuniting with old acquaintances, from business functions and office parties to community gatherings and dinner parties. Whatever it is, there are so many possibilities for you to connect with new individuals or to inform your current network about your professional ambitions.

Seasonal and Temporary Jobs Are Everywhere

For many businesses, December is an especially busy month. As a result, they’ll want a lot of extra assistance to get through the month. There are jobs available in a variety of industries, including shipping, marketing, design, entertainment, hospitality as well as retail and sales. 

Take advantage of these short-term jobs to get your foot in the door or to supplement your income while you search for something more permanent.

Looking to optimize your December job search? Consider speaking with a professional resume writer to ensure you have a productive month. Schedule a free consultation here.

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How To Prepare for a Job Interview

Are you one to stress about upcoming job interviews? Studies show that preparing for an interview ahead of time will vastly increase your chances of landing the job. There are a few key practices you can employ to prepare for the interview to make an excellent first impression on your future employer.

Make a Great Resume

It all starts with your resume–without a good one you won’t be landing an interview. It’s your first impression before the first impression, and it has to be a good one for the hiring manager to consider you for an interview.

Make a strong first impression with a strong, tightly formatted resume. Be aware of modern hiring strategies such as Applicant Tracking Systems and write your resume through this lens. Not only will a strong resume open the door to interviews, it will also serve as an excellent referential tool to leverage during the interview.

Interviewers love to ask about specific examples that highlight key skills, so Include specific, key accomplishments on your resume. That way, you will have a backlog of specific highlights you can reference during the interview.


Take the time to research the organization, position you are applying for and the job ad. Consider the company values, what the employer is looking for and measures of success in the position. Make a list of these items so you have everything down on paper. That will help with the next step.


Reference your list you made previously and match specific accomplishments, work experience, education and anything else to the qualifications. Skills, certificates, experiences, credentials, technical acumen and knowledge are all great things you can link to what the employer is looking for. 

When explaining to the hiring manager why you believe you are an amazing fit for the position, you now have a great list of specific examples to reference.

Practice Practice Practice

It’s a good idea to do at least one mock interview before the real deal. 

You can write down and practice responses to typical interview questions with a trusted friend, potentially even recording and critiquing your performance. Doing so will not only help you develop answers to common questions and help your speech, studies show it also reduces nerves.

Having trouble getting your foot in the door? Talk to a professional resume writer and career coach! Click here to schedule a free consultation.

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How To Find a Remote Job

Getting a remote job might feel like a dream come true for some people. Those who appreciate working from home will tell you that there are several advantages to working from home. You may schedule your time with more flexibility, no more waiting in traffic on your way to work, more time for yourself and your family and the ability to work while traveling across the world.

Furthermore, organizations are beginning to demand employees to work remotely. Many companies are looking for A-level workers, which may prove to be an asset in finding a wonderful company and a remote position. Finding and retaining a remote job, on the other hand, might be difficult, especially if you’re used to working in an office. That’s why we’ve compiled this list to assist you in overcoming these obstacles and finding the ideal remote work.

Where To Find A Remote Job

Finding remote work isn’t difficult, but it’s not the same as finding traditional employment. Some job boards may be congested, but if you’re patient and keep improving your skills, you will find work. You probably won’t see much traction at first, so you’ll need to be inventive to stand out. 

Because the competition for remote work is likely to be stronger than traditional employment, you will need to advertise yourself and be creative with your job application.

Finding the proper sites that advertise remote employment and identifying the right firms to follow on those sites are keys to success. Examine the websites that can help you find your ideal remote employment.

  • Remote.co
  • FlexJobs
  • RemoteOK

Always remember that you must show yourself in the best possible light. Prepare your resume, create an account on one of the job boards and schedule your time and workspace. Give yourself time to conquer all of the hurdles and barriers that come with working from home.

Need help preparing your resume? Click here to schedule a free consultation.

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The Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy

The term “gig” comes from the world of the performing arts, where comedians, musicians, and others are paid for individual appearances known as “gigs.” Merriam-Webster defines gig economy as “economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sector.”

The industry is rapidly growing–the ease of use of technology-centered businesses such as Uber and DoorDash is generating a convenience factor for consumers that is too good to pass up. The flexibility of the job offers an enticing freedom for jobseekers, who can set their own hours and avoid the standard 9-5.

As the industry grows, gig workers are mounting more pressure on their employers for stable benefits and salaries. On the other hand, some individuals found the free form nature of the gig industry to be liberating, leveraging their newfound flexibility to great success.

The Positives

The premise is ingenious: anyone with spare time or the capacity to provide wanted services may earn money through the technology-driven marketplace.

The potential to earn extra money frequently, quickly and with little risk is perhaps the most significant advantage. Gig employees may give services whenever they desire. Their work-life balance is under their control.

The Negatives

Alternatively, The gig economy lacks consistency and complete benefits like health insurance. Employees may lack a defined professional development path and mentorship inside a corporation.

Finding a gig job can be as simple as stating your availability. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for other freelance oriented paths. Others must be more invested in growing their brand, such as obtaining testimonials or reviews, taking excellent photographs of your Etsy items, knowing about and applying SEO keywords and implementing selling or incentive campaigns to encourage sales. Of course, gig jobs lack the standard safety net that comes with more structured jobs. If something goes wrong, individuals must be prepared to manage those obstacles.

The workplace is entering a seismic shift as the gig economy expands, and the future is still uncertain. Stay informed about the advantages and disadvantages of this new, technology-centered industry and decide if it’s right for you. 

Looking for a career shift? It’s time to punch-up your resume. Schedule a free consultation with a professional resume writer!

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How To Update A Resume For A Career Change

With many workers currently making the decision to shift careers in response to the pandemic, the job market is undergoing a substantial transitional phase. Many industries are actively seeking new workers, hiring at a fast pace and taking on employees who stem from a variety of career backgrounds. However, in order to successfully make these types of career shifts happen, one must first update their resume and align their skills with target jobs.

When making a career change, resume updates often leave job seekers stumped. How is it possible to transition into a new industry in which you have no tangible experience? These transitions can be difficult to accomplish, but when equipped with the most effective resume tools they will begin to feel more within your reach.

This guide will outline some tips, strategies and essentials for your career change resume. Let’s get started.

Focus On Transferable Skills

By highlighting your transferable skills – or skills you’ve developed which could apply to almost any career field – you can emphasize your existing experience in a way that seems highly relevant to the new position. Through a strategic approach, you can bring your transferable skills to the forefront and effectively sell your qualifications, skills and successes to the prospective employer.

It’s often helpful to reflect on the reasons you’re shifting careers in the first place. Why do you desire this new job, and how do you envision yourself fitting into the new environment? What are some skills you’ve acquired through your existing experience which could heighten your success in a new industry? If you are capable of presenting an honest, professional and determined career profile portraying a candidate who can adapt, learn and flourish in a new environment, your chances of being hired in a different industry from your current one will be much higher. 

To set an example, imagine you are a retail professional who is looking to transition into the real estate industry. Undeniably, most jobs within these two industries possess many overlapping characteristics. What are some of the transferable skills acquired through retail which would most greatly benefit your real estate resume? With these two industries, the most important transferable skills would be related to sales strategies, customer interaction, marketing, needs assessment, client acquisition and many more. With many career changes such as this, there are numerous transferable skills to choose from. Ultimately, it’s up to the job candidate to decide which skills are most relevant to their own experience and to their desired jobs.

When you have decided upon a handful of skills to focus on (ideally between 12 and 18), make sure to include them in bullet points in a “Skills” section in your resume. Not only will this allow hiring managers and recruiters to swiftly scan through a brief synopsis of your skills, but the keywords will boost your ATS software-generated applicant ranking when you apply to jobs online.

Make A Few Revisions To Your Professional Experience

When making these revisions, job applicants often fall victim to removing all sorts of information from their resume which they deem inapplicable to their desired roles. However, it’s usually in your best interest to leave this information as is. You may feel free to truncate some of the more lengthy industry-specific descriptions or any content you deem redundant, but you should not remove any of your fundamental skills, qualifications or achievements from your resume. Even if these resume elements are not considered relevant to your desired job, they still retain value on your document as testaments to your positive operational contributions and overall success. You can always subtly de-emphasize their significance towards the target job by adjusting the formatting or relocating the information to another area of the page. 

Instead of removing content, try to center your experience descriptions around the transferable skills you have identified. You’ll want to implement each one of these skills into a bullet point to fully illustrate how you applied them; demonstrate how these skills enabled you to overcome challenges, facilitate beneficial outcomes and improve operational efficiency. Your goal is to utilize each skill to create a captivating portrait of yourself, allowing any hiring manager to clearly visualize what type of worker you are, understand the contributions you could potentially offer and sense the needs and benefits of having you join their team.

To once again refer to the retail-to-real estate transition example, it would be a good idea in this case to describe your presentation skills; doing so would convey your capabilities for managing property showings, interacting with prospective clients and maintaining the condition of your facilities. Retail environments are often highly dependent on staff’s ability to engage with customers, provide tours of the store and its merchandise, provide solutions to client needs and ensure presentable work premises. Each of these aspects of the retail industry are highly similar to the inner workings of real estate.

Add Important Certifications, Training, Projects or Additional Education Information

Although many career changes can be executed without any contingency of obtaining specific credentials, many new careers require some type of formal training or certification to be considered for hire. If your specific career change is dependent upon a certification, special training course or educational program, make sure you bring this information to the forefront of your resume. 

In some cases, it may also be beneficial to elaborate further upon your existing educational background. If you graduated from college less than 5 years ago, then were there any specific courses you completed which heavily apply to your target job? If so, then feel free to include each course in a bullet point and highlight the key skills you developed through each one.

Lastly, if you have undertaken any side projects or independent ventures which speak to your qualifications for your new career, make sure you create a section to list these along with specific details about each. These aspects of your profile will help demonstrate your level of interest in the new job role, and will help reinforce your preparedness for the career shift.

Although career changes can often be tricky, applying each of these strategies towards your resume will allow hiring managers to take note of your abilities and become convinced of your value towards their organization. We hope that this guide has offered some useful information and helped rejuvenate your enthusiasm towards shaping a new resume for the career change you’ve been dreaming about.

Having trouble updating your resume for a career change? Talk to a professional! Click here to schedule your free consultation.

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How To Prepare a Resume in Federal Format

When a government job opportunity requests applicants to send their resumes in federal format, many candidates become anxious and uncertain of how to proceed. Although federal resumes may present a daunting additional layer of work to your job applications, they can be easily prepared by making only a few adjustments to your standard resume.

Here are a few tips and general guidelines to get you started with your federal resume:

Read the Job Description and Verify Your Qualifications

On the whole, federal jobs tend to be more specific and particular about their requirements for candidates than most other jobs. Often, they will only be seeking candidates who possess a certain amount of experience in a particular field, or a specific type of education, training or certification. Since these requirements are often more stringent than in other typical job applications, you’ll want to make sure you fulfill each of these requirements before beginning a federal resume.

You will also want to pay attention to how you will be evaluated in the application process and take appropriate measures to prepare yourself. If the job description specifies that the interview portion is most emphasized in your evaluation, then be sure to brush up on your communication skills and prepare some responses to common interview questions to successfully present an outstanding impression. If the application is evaluated more heavily on your skills and experiences, make sure the content of your resume is as closely aligned as possible with the job’s desired abilities and qualifications.

Include All of the Necessary Information

Federal resumes will require several key pieces of information which normally are not included on standard resumes. For every job position on your federal resume, you will also need to include:

1. Accurate start and end dates (month and year)
2. The average number of hours worked per week
3. Your most recent salary

Some federal job applications may also request each of your employers’ addresses, cities,
states or countries. Occasionally, your supervisor’s name and contact information will also be requested.

Additionally, make sure that your job title and experience descriptions are accurately reflective of your level and amount of experience. To help reinforce your experience level, it’s helpful to include specific examples of your duties and accomplishments to prove that you are highly capable of performing each of the federal job’s required tasks. When preparing these descriptions, you will want to focus on addressing every single one of the federal job’s requirements. The more effectively your federal resume can satisfy each requirement of a federal job, the better chance you have of earning a position.

Make Sure Your Writing and Formatting Are Clear

Your federal resume will need to be as concise and readable as possible. Many federal jobs
receive dozens or even hundreds of resumes, so you will need to make sure that your
document is capable of presenting your most relevant experiences, accomplishments and
qualifications within 10 to 15 seconds of viewing. Ideally, you will want to effectively sell yourself before reaching the halfway mark on your page.

With the written components, it’s typically best to avoid using too many elaborate or complex words. Keeping things simplistic, consistent, concise and readable in bullet point or paragraph format is always the best option. A recruiter or hiring manager who has read 100 resumes the same day as yours will not be impressed by your extensive vocabulary, grammatical skills or ability to create complicated formatting schemes. They merely want to gather information from you, and your resume will convey this information more effectively when written in a simplistic manner.

In addition, you will want to make sure your resume is organized logically and meaningfully. Each job position you’ve held will need to be organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent being placed first. You should elaborate further on details relevant to the federal job while reducing any descriptions which aren’t applicable. Make sure each of your specific achievements are listed underneath the jobs they correspond with.

To help make your accomplishments and work highlights stand out more clearly, it will be
beneficial to include numerical values in your descriptions. Sentences such as “Reduced
overhead costs by 25%” are always a good way to demonstrate your capabilities and prove your value as an employee. It is also most effective to avoid using acronyms and instead write out the full versions of each term. This way, you can be certain that recruiters and hiring managers will easily understand your accomplishments.

Even though federal resumes do present a unique set of challenges to job applicants, we hope that this guide will help make the process of creating one feel much less intimidating. By making a few minor adjustments to a standard resume and complying with the general guidelines for federal resumes, any qualified candidate can successfully make their way into an interview for a federal job.

Having trouble with your resume? Hire a professional! Click here to schedule a free consultation.

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The Top Skills You Should Include in a Post-Pandemic Resume

As the world attempts to keep pace with the unpredictability that the global health crisis has brought, it is more important than ever to do your part to adjust to these changes. For you, a recent college graduate, this means entering into an unfamiliar post-pandemic workforce. It is crucial to be aware of the skills and experiences that organizations value when reviewing job candidates in the current job market. In the words of American CEO Henry R. Kravis, “You only have one thing to sell in life, and that’s yourself.” The first impression many of these companies get of you will be your resume, and there are a few qualities that should be included to show that you are able to acclimate to unprecedented times.

increase your interviews with a strong resume

Soft Skills: Who Are You?

It is attractive to list a wide range of relevant abilities and qualifications on your resume. These skills can be broken down into two categories: soft and hard skills. According to Investopedia, soft skills are defined as character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people. In a professional setting, soft skills serve as the foundation for a good employee.

Your resume should mention examples of skills like tenacity, or your determination and ability to quickly grasp concepts. This trait is a great way to show that you are willing and able to learn new skills and keep up with changing demands. Additionally, you can prove that you are able to work in high pressure situations by listing examples of crisis management and resilience. These traits are essential to any future work environment, but having an employee who exhibits these skills and demonstrates their value in and out of the office is a great asset to organizational success. Along with the ability to adapt and persevere through adversity, your resume should also note your flexibility. Displaying a willingness to change when necessary will demonstrate to employers that you are ready to take any coming challenges head on.

Hard Skills: What Can You Do?

The soft skills you will adopt throughout your life and career will make it easier to develop necessary hard skills, or learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, repetition, and education. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, strong technological skills have become the forefront for a highly capable and productive workforce. From fully remote workforces to hybrid teams, technology enables people throughout the world to continue collaborating and working efficiently to achieve organizational goals and missions in a way that is socially distant. Successful entrepreneur and businessman Robert F. Smith once said, “Technology and technology development is absolutely changing everything. So to a great extent the way I think about it is, we have to enable our citizenry to participate in this transformation.” As a candidate, you will stand out among the rest by participating in this transformation with the hard skills you have to offer your employer.

These specific hard skills should be mentioned on a resume in two main forms: the ability to organize and run virtual meetings and an expert-level understanding of how to use virtual workspace softwares. These abilities are now two of the most paramount hard skills for an employee to have. We may have made it out of quarantine, but hybrid and remote workforces are not going anywhere. Some companies are even considering never making the return to an in-person work model. Recent graduates have an upper hand in working with these technologies through their exposure  in remote college courses. As a recent graduate, you can set yourself apart from older candidates who may have more experience in their professional career but fall short when it comes to technology. It’s crucial that you use your resume as a place to introduce your superior virtual collaboration skills.

As we move forward and the darkest days of the pandemic appear to be behind us, college graduates are preparing to navigate this uncertain workforce with everyone else. You can use your expertise in the unknown to your advantage by showing employers that these difficult times pushed you out of your comfort zone and into the development of your soft and hard skills, making you the ideal employee.

Need help with a resume? It’s easy. Call 1-800-730-3244. The consultation is free!

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Avoiding Ageism in your Resume Without Misrepresentation

In 2021, many companies are looking to revamp their workforce after the pandemic. They want to plan with the future in mind, now more than ever. Unfortunately, this leads to many companies looking at older, experienced professional resumes unfairly because of ageism.

Ageism, discriminating against someone because of their age, happens all too often in job searches. Companies want to invest in people who they think will stick around for a long time. Seeing that someone has been in the workforce for 40 years doesn’t give this impression.

But your resume doesn’t need to misrepresent you to avoid ageism. In fact, there are some subtle but crucial tips that will optimize your resume towards positions you truly deserve.

Relevance and Recency

Perhaps always the most crucial part of any resume, your work history needs to focus on how you are specifically qualified for the job to which you are applying.

In regards to ageism, this doesn’t just mean avoiding irrelevant job history entries, but also avoiding outdated ones. Experience from more than 15 years ago might be in the correct job field, but as positions evolve over time, anything older than 15 years can come off as out of touch.

For example, if you have decades of experience in accounting, clearly including your recent experience is smart. But accounting experience from 1999 isn’t as relevant on a resume, because the accounting job world uses so much more technology now. 

It’s more impressive to have extensive knowledge in a modern job setting than it is to have 20 years of outdated experience. That’s not to say your 20 years is pointless, because it is important and will surely aid you in any job you work in. But as far as marketing yourself on your resume, think about what will impress an employer looking for people on the cutting edge in their job field.


This focus on relevancy and recency extends to education. Anything beyond high school you should definitely include. But depending on how old the degree is, consider leaving the graduation year off the resume.

To put this into perspective, seeing someone’s Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering degree from 1993 on a resume can come off outdated, as if you don’t utilize that knowledge anymore. Conversely, seeing a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering degree with no date implies a more current, permanent and relevant piece of the resume.

Your age and experience are nothing to be ashamed about, but you should take every advantage you can to ensure companies look at your resume and evaluate your talent, not your lifespan. 

If you’re worried about ageism affecting your resume, contact our writers at RazorEdge Resumes for a free consultation.

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Should You Be Hesitant About Returning to Work?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that now that millions of people have received the vaccine, businesses are reopening left and right.

On the flip side, you have also probably heard that many companies are struggling to fill open positions. You yourself may be looking for a new job, which means that you may have considered taking one of these open positions. However, if other people aren’t taking those jobs, then why should you?

If you have struggled with deciding whether or not to return to work as the pandemic nears its end, follow these tips to determine whether or not it is a good idea for you.

Why People Actually Aren’t Returning to Work

A lot of the jobs that are struggling to fill open positions are jobs that require people to work on the “front lines,” but with pay that does not reflect that risk.

For example, a job posting went viral on social media after a restaurant owner posted a passive-aggressive job posting saying “nobody wants to work.” Someone who was annoyed by the job posting did some research and discovered that the open jobs only paid about $2.50 an hour plus tips.

Furthermore, people have discovered that they are actually making more money receiving Unemployment benefits than they were when they were actually working. The reality is that people are unwilling to take jobs on the frontlines if the pay does not reflect the risk.

It’s not that people are unwilling to work; people are unwilling to work for less than what they need. If your line of work doesn’t follow under this criteria, then you should consider returning.

What You Should Know Before Returning to Work

Before you dive back into your career, you need to ask your boss/potential boss a few questions to make sure that you are making the right decision. Just because your job may not be on the front lines does not mean that you aren’t taking a risk by returning to work.

The first question you need to ask is what new safety precautions have been put in place. A lot of businesses have reduced their employees risk of contracting COVID almost entirely by having them do their job remotely. Others have added temperature takers and COVID monitors to make sure that employees and customers are not entering the business sick, and that once they are in the building, they are following CDC guidelines.

The next question you need to get answered is how has this job adapted to the pandemic. The businesses that have survived the pandemic are ones that changed how they conduct business rather than did the usual. Find out what your job is now doing differently and how it has worked out for them.

You now need to find out what your job will do in the unfortunate event that you do get COVID. You need to make sure that you will get paid sick leave should this happen.

Finally, you need to compare the pros of this job versus staying on Unemployment. Granted there are hardships that come with being on unemployment, but if you are making more money on Unemployment, it’s worth considering saying on it.

Is Returning to Work Right For You?

If after reading these tips you still don’t know if you should return to work, you probably need to look at your own personal reasons for why you might not want to. For example, your family may really need you to stay at home. You also may have some underlying health concerns that make you more at risk than others.

If you have similar issues, then you should either hold off a bit longer, or look for some remote work opportunities. However, if you think it’s time for you to return to work, then allow us to help. Since you’ve been out of work for awhile, your resume could probably use some assistance.

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How to Optimize a Resume for ATS Systems

Have you been struggling with the job application process? Wondering what could be holding you back from getting any type of response to your applications? Take a deep breath and relax, because the problem might have absolutely nothing to do with your qualifications, experience level or character. It’s very possible that ATS systems – or Applicant Tracking Systems – may be the source of your difficulties.

ATS systems are one of the most crucial components of the resume review process. These algorithmically-driven computer systems are designed to scan through and search for specific keywords (skills, phrases, experiences or tasks that are indicative of expertise and competency) in every resume from a specific job opening’s applicant pool. 

By doing so, these systems establish an automatically-ranked list of candidates for hiring managers to review at their leisure. Using these lists, employers can determine whether they want to learn more about a candidate in a matter of seconds.

Although ATS systems are undoubtedly an effective means of discovering high quality candidates for any job, there are numerous pitfalls to the technology which can lead to some of the most qualified candidates receiving zero consideration for a job. So if you’re a qualified candidate who’s struggling, listen up!

Here, I will outline five categories of focus that any job applicant can utilize to draft the most ATS-compliant resume possible.

Visual Formatting

When most job-seekers prepare their resumes, they are primarily concerned with the immediate reactions of hiring managers. This often leads candidates to emphasize elements such as formatting or graphics in order to appear unique or sophisticated. Have you ever been told that you needed to include fancy colors, tables, headers or other graphic design elements in a resume in order to get an employer’s attention? Although this advice is well-intentioned, it is completely false. In fact, doing so will actually put you at a strong disadvantage when facing any ATS system.

Your resume will be reviewed, processed and evaluated by a computer program long before it ever reaches the eyes of a human being. Therefore, resumes must always be formatted in accordance with what computer programs would consider valuable. And from the perspective of an ATS system, elaborate graphical schemes are not only meaningless but can also negatively interfere with the program’s functionality.

The truth is that although ATS systems continue to be improved and built upon to increase efficiency and accuracy, many of the algorithms and programs are simplistic, dated and limited in capability. Most ATS systems are not equipped to parse through complex or unusual formatting schemes. Sure, your revenue growth table or the bursts of color in your elaborately-crafted header might look impressive to the eye, but there is virtually zero chance that they will actually help you score an interview. In reality, they might actually cause your most important qualifications to be overlooked. 

With ATS systems, the positive human reactions to visual touches will not only be lost entirely, but the added elements will only make it more difficult for employers to receive and accurately review your resume. This means you should avoid including headers, footers, colors, tables, charts, images and other elaborate formatting elements in your documents.

Textual Formatting

In addition to visual elements, you will want to follow a general set of formatting guidelines to ensure that your text will be straightforward and easily-parsable for both ATS and employers.

First and foremost, work experiences should always be listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent position. With different chronological structures in place, ATS systems become vulnerable to confusion and may detect non-existent employment gaps in your career history.

With regards to visual style, most ATS systems are designed to scan only common and simplistic fonts. It is always most appropriate to use a traditional font such as Times New Roman, Palatino or Helvetica for your resume. ATS scans can produce unpredictable results when less common or unusual fonts are present.

Lastly, you will always want to label each section of your resume with the most direct terminology possible. For example, you should always label the section containing your job history as “Work Experience”, “Professional Experience”, “Professional History” or another similar short phrase. Unusual labels such as “The Story of my Career” or “All of my Jobs” can confuse the ATS system, causing your information to be mislabeled or placed out of order.

Job Description Keywords

Typically, ATS systems will scan for two categories of keywords: job description-based or field-specific. Depending on which ATS system is in place, the algorithms will scan for either one or both types of keywords. To ensure that your resume complies with the specifications of every ATS system, you should prepare to include both job description-based and field-specific keywords.

Before submitting a resume, applicants should always plan to carefully read their job descriptions and highlight any standout phrases or required skills. From there, you can determine which keywords and phrases most accurately apply to your professional profile, then work them into your resume. In order to implement a large amount of keywords with ease, include a “Skills” section in your resume. Not only does this section help optimize your resume for ATS systems, but it provides hiring managers with a coherent and comprehensive glimpse into some of your most valuable attributes as a worker.

Field-Specific Keywords

Some ATS systems focus more heavily on keywords that are broadly applicable to a particular career field. Generally the more high-level, hyper-specific and versatile your skill set is, the more likely that you will achieve a higher ranking in an ATS-produced applicant list.

Consider doing research into your target career field. It’s important to understand which abilities and experiences are most heavily emphasized and valued by recruiters and hiring managers in your professional realm. If you were in their shoes, what would be the most crucial and significant skills and assets to seek out in candidates? 

Additionally, there are numerous transferable skills which function as keywords in almost every career field. For example, phrases such as “interpersonal communication”, “problem-solving”, “adaptability”, “team leadership”, “staff supervision” or “cross-functional coordination” are universally sought-after by employers and can apply to almost any job opportunity.

You should avoid excessive inclusion of keywords, especially those which are not applicable or suitable for your experience level. Some applicants will even attempt to include “invisible” keywords in white text. Doing this will not help you get hired. Maintaining honesty and integrity is always crucially important, and hiring managers will surely take notice if you are exaggerating or blatantly trying to cheat the system. ATS optimization is an incredibly useful tool, but overdoing it will only yield negative results.

Writing Style

There are several key stylistic elements to keep in mind when writing an ATS-optimized resume. All documents should be written in a direct, professional and concise tone in order to leave a confident, sophisticated impression. This means eliminating all colloquialisms, idioms and other informal language from your writing. Although resumes should always be written in first-person point-of-view, first-person pronouns such as “I” and “my” should be eliminated from all text and treated as implied words.

In order to boost your ATS ranking, any phrases, skills or titles which involve acronyms should be notated with both long-form and acronym formats. For example, an acronym such as CRM should be written as both “CRM” and “Customer Relationship Management”.

To ensure that your resume is effective, include four key sections: overview, skills, work experience and education as well as add sections for any additional relevant information. This may include volunteer experience, certifications, technical proficiencies, awards, organizational affiliations, publications and media appearances. All of these lead to ATS systems noticing your resume over the rest.

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Henry Klein is an experienced professional resume writer who currently manages the Chicago Lakeview office of A Better Resume Service. He is passionate about his work, dedicated to helping clients achieve their career goals and gain valuable knowledge about the job search process. In his free time, Henry likes to cook, produce various styles of music, read novels and go running.

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