You feel you already have a pretty great resume: solid work history, relevant skills and keywords, and the best resume format to fit your career and highlight it all. You’re ready to take the spring job market by storm (or by gray rainy drizzle).
But before you send it off to face those applicant tracking systems (ATS)—the software application commonly used by employers to receive, filter, and file all those submitted resumes—use these five quick tips to declutter and tie up any last loose ends:
1. More than one page? Don’t sweat it!
The best resume formats are often said to be one page. Until recently, this has been a golden resume-writing rule, but the rise of applicant tracking systems has allowed some liberties in content and space.
A resume parser, at the heart of an ATS, extracts relevant information (including contact information, resume keywords, and skills) from submitted resumes. A resume parser does not care about page breaks. If your resume extends to a second page, that information will get parsed, too.
So, job seekers, stop scratching your head while messing with font sizes and margins, and simply include the content you need (choosing quality over quantity, of course). A two-page resume, or even a three-page resume, is now acceptable, thanks to applicant tracking systems.
2. Consider a career summary
Including a career summary at the top of your resume format is a great way to immediately make yourself distinctive to hiring managers.
Career summaries allow seasoned employees to establish a brand for themselves and express what makes them distinctive. For example, if your customer service experience has been solely with start-up companies, so you’re used to shifting priorities and wearing many hats, that sets you apart.
If your career is in its beginning stages (looking at you, college seniors), you can still use a career summary. Try the alternate title “Summary of Experience,” and focus on your skills and training—this includes both education and internships. When crafting your career summary, remember that, even for entry-level jobs, employers want to know how you can fill their needs. The buzzwords and career aspirations typical of resume objectives aren’t valuable to an employer.
Career summaries are also prime opportunities to include more of those crucial resume keywords, which can help your resume rank higher in an ATS. The quickest, easiest way to determine these resume keywords is to run your resume through a keyword tracker tool such as Jobscan. You’ll get instant personalized feedback telling you if your keywords have been formatted correctly, and whether you’ve missed any keyword opportunities.
3. Quantify your achievements
Whenever possible, use a number to back up statements that display the duties of your past occupations as achievements. Doing so will help hiring managers see exactly how much you benefited a company. Which is more powerful: “Significantly increased profits” or “increased profits by 30 percent.” Most accomplishments can, in some way, be tied back to money or time. To come up with resume accomplishments, think in terms of challenges you faced, the action you took, and the result.
4. Leave those gaps in your work history
Maternity leave, studying or volunteering abroad, injury or illness, deaths. Even the most professional resumes can have a few holes in the work history, because life happens.
According to Glassdoor, unless the gap is more than two years, don’t stress about it. And don’t try to hide it on your resume. Many hiring managers will be understanding, especially given the number of people with gaps in their work histories as a result of the recent recession. If you do want to address a gap in your work history, save it for the in-person interview, or potentially your cover letter. Whenever you decide to bring it up, keep your explanation short and to the point.
If a resume provides quality, relevant content in other categories, most hiring managers won’t mind some time away from the workforce.
5. Ideal file types
When submitting a resume online, it is crucial to understand which document file type will upload best and keep the integrity of your resume format. Most applicant tracking systems are sophisticated enough to accept numerous file types.
- Word Document (.doc or .docx): A common and easy-to-edit file type. In most cases, your resume will be parsed error-free. Errors tend to be limited to spacing, and the contents of tables.
- Adobe PDF (.pdf): Some early iterations of applicant tracking systems had trouble with this file type, but that is rarely the case now. The best feature about PDFs is that your resume formatting will remain intact.
- Plain Text (.txt): This file type is universally compatible, but a resume won’t look very pretty. This file type removes formatting, resulting in pure, plain text. Upload a formatted copy of resume as well, if possible, if you choose .txt.
- Copy and Paste: Rather than a file type, this is the option of copying and pasting your resume’s content directly into a space provided in the job application. Double check everything before submitting!
- JPEG (.jpeg): While typically used for images, you can store a document as a JPEG. This file type is not recommended, because it’s not accepted by every ATS.
As you complete your spring cleaning, don’t forget that you aren’t done until you’ve assessed your resume for these five traits.