This is something I talk about with almost all of my clients in career transition.
The first reader of your application materials is probably going to be…an algorithm.
These applicant tracking systems (ATS) or robot readers are programmed to pull keywords that match a specific job ad. The ATS then sends the top applications on to human readers. That means a single document has to be optimized for both robot and human readers.
This great blog post from Jobscan is a testament to the importance of carefully matching keywords from the job ad to your application materials–even when applying to very similar jobs. It can be vitally important to change “projections” to “forecasts” (in the accounting context) or to carefully select from among “communication strategies,” “communications strategy,” and “communications strategies.” Every letter can matter.
Most of what needs to be said is in the post, 8 Things You Need to Know About Applicant Tracking Systems. Remember: it is worth spending your time customizing each application to each specific job ad. Your yield will be much better than spending your time blasting 100 generic resumes to 100 different job openings where ATS readers will never pick up your application and send it on to a human reader.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, interview preparation, and academic documents. She is the author of the forthcoming volume from Georgetown University Press, “Integrating Career Preparation into Language Courses.” For help customizing your job application documents andnavigating your career transition, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org