Who, Exactly, is Reading Your Resume?

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Know Your Audience and Write For It

How you write your resume and what you will include and omit will depend upon many factors.  One of them is who will be reading your resume.  Will it be a computer?  An HR department or recruiting agency employee?  Or will it be the actual business owner?

If you are applying for a job with a large company or corporation, particularly those with high employee turnaround, you can almost bet your resume will be read, initially, by a computer. Corporations and large companies use resume screening software called ATS: Applicant Tracking System, that “scores” resumes to filter out the undesirables. Government Agencies, School Boards, Alberta Health Services, City Departments and Town Municipalities, and of course companies like Teck Coal, CNRL, Suncor, PCL Construction, Stuart Olson, and on and on, use ATSs. These companies include specific qualifications requirements in their job postings and the ATS is looking for matches to those qualifications. The ATS is not interested in anything you’ve done that is unrelated and irrelevant to the job posting.  If your resume contains too much irrelevant information it will pull your score down and you’ll be out of the race.

While HR and recruiting agency personnel are human beings with eyeballs, they function much like an ATS.  These individuals are well-trained and experienced in resume scanning.  They know what they are looking for and if they don’t find it in about six seconds, they move on.  What is important to remember when writing your resume for an HR department is that they must go through, in some cases, hundreds of resumes to find a handful of promising candidates.  Moreover, it is their job to find qualified people for specific jobs, and like an ATS, they aren’t interested in applicants’ previous unrelated jobs, particularly those held over 10 years ago.

Here’s Where Things Change

Writing your resume for the actual business owner is a whole other ball game.  If you know the first, and perhaps only person, who will read your resume is the business owner, the one who makes the hiring decision, you will write your resume in a style different from the one you would write for an ATS.  This is particularly true for those applying for jobs in their hometown or a small city.  Some small business owners, especially Mom ‘n Pop establishments, like to see who you’ve worked for and the variety of skills you have acquired in your previous jobs even though they may be unrelated to the one you are applying for. Often, in small businesses, employees are required to wear many hats and showing you have done everything from cleaning to stocking shelves to operating a forklift could be a good thing. And, since the small business owner may have only 20 or 30 resumes to review,  he or she can take their time to read and absorb every word of every resume.

So, in the mind-boggling, confusing, frustrating world of resume-writing, the bottom line is, knowing who you are writing your resume for will direct how you write it.

Alright all you job-seekers, there it is for today. Remember, since I am an expert resume-writer I can develop your resume and cover letter for you, so don’t stress! Believe me, there is no shame in getting a professional to write such an important document for you. And, as always, I want your feedback and comments so I can make this blog really useful and helpful to all job-seekers.

Thanks for your time today!

Learn more about ATSs and who uses them.

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