If you’re job searching online, and you probably are, you’ve had to upload your resume to job ad after job ad after job ad. Not exactly my idea of fun, but a necessary evil nonetheless.
But just because you upload your resume to a job you want doesn’t mean you’ll actually hear anything. You see, there’s a big difference between a good resume that gets interviews and a bad resume that gets rejected every time.
A good resume gets you noticed by recruiters. It perfectly sums up your work experience, highlights appropriate skills, and shows you’re the perfect person for the job. This gives you a better chance of landing an interview, which (hopefully) leads to job offers.
But what about a bad resume?
A bad resume, on the other hand, sends you into the abyss of applicants, never to be heard from again.
If you’re applying to remote jobs like crazy but aren’t hearing anything back, a bad resume could be the culprit.
Here’s how to tell if your resume is bad and, if so, how to fix it fast.
The Format Is Funny
I’m not talking funny ha-ha but funny odd. Most resumes are sent through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before they ever land in front of a recruiter.
An ATS is designed to filter good resumes from the bad ones. When it finds a ‘good’ one, it forwards it to the recruiter. A bad one? Well, that lands in the virtual garbage pile.
In order to properly ‘read’ your resume, the ATS needs to understand its format. If your resume has borders, columns, divider lines, and other unnecessary formatting it won’t be able to read it. And, if it can’t read it, the ATS will automatically reject it.
Instead, keep your resume clean. Don’t get overly fussy with its format. Stick to simple sentences and basic bullet points. Save it as a PDF or .doc or .docx as these are more easily understood by ATS.
Remember, if you’re applying to a job online, your resume is likely going through an ATS. If the ATS cannot understand your resume, you won’t get in front of a real person let alone a call for an interview request.
The Content Is Lacking
As the ATS browses your resume to figure out if you’re a keeper or not, it’s looking for keywords.
The keywords it’s looking for entirely depends on the position you’re applying for. You can find the appropriate keywords for a particular job by dissecting the job ad itself.
For example, let’s say you come across a remote job post for a customer service rep. Awesome. You have plenty of customer service experience and would love the chance to work from home. Sounds good. But this doesn’t mean you should simply upload your cookie cutter resume and expect it’s going to get you an interview request.
Assume that each job you apply for is uniquely different — because it is. A standard one-size-fits-all resume simply doesn’t work, especially where ATS is concerned.
After all, a recruiter or hiring manager uses ATS to filter through resumes that often number in the hundreds for a single position. To end up with a manageable number of the best resumes possible, the recruiter asks the ATS to find those with the right keywords. The ‘right’ keywords are those listed in the job ad itself. Remember, a job advertisement is an employer’s way of spelling out their ideal candidate. You can mirror yourself as the perfect fit by pulling keywords from the ad and placing them in your resume.
A keyword driven resume gets past the ATS and increases your interview chances. A cookie cutter resume likely won’t make the cut, leaving you in the ‘no’ pile.
It’s Poorly Written
Once you get past the ATS, you might think you’re in the clear. You managed to upload a resume that is format-friendly and keyword dense. As a result, your resume is now sitting in front a real recruiter ready to make interview calls. You’ve got this, right?
While a recruiter only spends an average of 6 seconds glancing over your resume, it’s still important that you spend time making sure it’s on point. It’s easy to get past ATS with formatting and keywords, it’s not as easy to impress a recruiter in such a short amount of time.
First things first, be sure to proofreader. A bad resume will have spelling and grammar errors. When a recruiter spots a spelling mistake or grammar gaffe, they’re very unlikely to invite you to interview.
Second, a recruiter wants to see (at a glance) how you can make an impact in this position. To do that, your resume needs to have quantifiable qualifications and achievements.
Too often, resumes read like job descriptions of previous positions. That is, you list your daily job duties instead of accomplishments.
For example, let’s say you were a sales agent at a paper company. A good resume would illustrate your specific accomplishments in that position, i.e., increased quarterly sales revenue by 27%, doubled client base in 6 months, etc.
A bad resume lists general tasks you were expected to do as a paper salesman, i.e., made cold calls, up sell goods, etc.
Always, always, always knock the socks off of a recruiter by bragging about your accomplishments in previous positions with hard data. When they see how you were successful in a former role, it’s easy for them to see you as a potential success in the open position. They’ll want to know more about you and your accomplishments by inviting you in for an interview!
Don’t Let A Bad Resume Keep Your From Getting More Interviews
There you have it! If you’ve been applying to remote jobs seemingly nonstop but aren’t getting the callbacks you deserve, you might have a bad resume on your hand.
It’s easy to get complacent in your job search, especially when applying online. You can go from browsing a job ad to application submitted in a matter of minutes when you simply use a standard resume for every job you apply to.
Don’t do it!
Instead, take the time to create a custom resume for every job you apply to. Keep the format ATS friendly and boost visibility by using keywords. And, of course, once you get past ATS, make sure your resume is error-free and demonstrates your achievements. Before you know it, you’ll be getting the callbacks you deserve and be one step closer to kicking your cubicle to the curb.
P.S. This post might contain affiliate links. Check out my disclosure statement for more information.