Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Get Any Job You Want with these 7 Resume “Hacks”

Written by Kate Lopaze

The robots are real! They’re here, and they’re coming for your… resume. More and more companies are turning to digital screening processes and online tools to get through the many, many applications they get for open positions.

It makes a ton of sense that our approach to resumes and job applications should change, now that the formats and gatekeepers are shifting. You can follow these top resume tips for 2016 to help you get ready to compete with other fifty applicants.

Imgur user Stephane Grace has hit on a method for revamping your resume to fit this new digital job hunt, and although his techniques may not work for everyone in every industry, his writeup has a number of great common-sense tips.


Here are 7 Steps to “Hack” the Automated Resume Screeners and Get You Those Job Interviews

Your goal is to get past the robot gatekeepers, and get your (digital) self in front of the human reviewers who take it from there. This thinking takes basic search engine optimization (SEO) principles and applies it in a more personal way.

Step 1: Research and collect data.

Start by collecting online job descriptions for the kind of job you’re seeking, and copy them into a master document. While you’re collecting, keep an eye out for common themes and keywords.

Step 2: Play job description bingo.

Do a more comprehensive review for repeating words and phrases as part of the job descriptions. You can do this review with your own eagle eyes, or you can use free online tools that flag words and phrases by frequency. (Grace recommends SEOBook.)

Priority resume keywords: words used in the company’s listed job title, used in the description headlines, used more than twice, called out as success criteria

Secondary resume keywords: mention of competitor companies or brand name experience, keyword phrases (phrases surrounding priority keywords), notable industry qualifications (training, associations)

Step 3: Find out how your experience fits in.

Look at your existing resume and your professional experience. Can you make those match with the keywords and themes you uncovered in Step 2? Make sure to wring every bit of potential out of your hard and soft skills.

For example, if a job you want calls for a particular kind of coding experience, but you’ve only taken classes in it (as opposed to hands-on work experience), make sure it’s still noted in the initial resume with terms like “experience with” or “exposure to.”

Step 4: Boost your skills.

If your research up to this point has uncovered some gaps that could prevent you from getting the job you want, start filling in those gaps. Sign up for a class. Do extensive research online. Find a way to get that skill from the “should have” column to the “got it!” column.

Step 5: Write it all out.

Grace’s main argument is that most resumes submitted online are seen by automated eyes only in the first round. Thus, he argues, you can throw out all the conventional wisdom about how short your resume should be, for easy reading, since you’re really just trying to appeal to a word-seeking system.

As an editor and someone with an attention span handcrafted by television and the internet, I still think you should be as concise as possible—but the old-school resume limitations are certainly up for debate in this digital age.

Step 6: Post it online.

Send off your rejiggered resume to the digital winds, posting it on job boards or online application systems.

Step 7: Follow up with a more conventional resume.

Once you start getting bites, respond with more traditional job application elements. For example, if someone from HR reaches out to you to follow up, attach the shorter-and-sweeter version of your resume (the 1-2 page one you typically use), and include your cover letter pitch if necessary.

If you try these methods for your next round of job searching, it’s best to confirm some information up front: like that you’re not sending your extra-double-comprehensive resume straight to a human’s email inbox, but rather a generic system. The last thing you want is a “tl;dr” blow-off if your SEO masterpiece is overwhelming and doesn’t pass through an automated system at all. But if you do want to try to bump up your initial approach and try to get those robots to do your (professional) bidding, you could be that much closer to landing the job you want.

[image source: resunate]

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.