The adage in the title is very misleading, especially for people in transition or otherwise contemplating a career change. Not only is the contention untrue but also in fact it hinders the ability to get what you want. Furthermore, it gives a false sense of positive feeling. For example, a person in transition is told to customize his resume to the job opening being applied to. Sounds logical, but it’s a laborious process that can take hours of hard work. And at the end of the process, clicking on Submit or Apply gives a lot of satisfaction. But it’s a false satisfaction because nowadays most if not all such submissions are going through electronic software called an applicant tracking system, or ATS, which has its own rules. If the applicant does not obey those rules, the resume or job application goes into the proverbial black hole and never reaches its intended destination. That’s where the hurt comes in, because the applicant will never learn why it happened or how to correct the process for next time.
So, what to do?
Here are several suggestions on formatting your resume the right way. The suggestions apply only to electronic job applications, which means you should have two versions of the resume: one for the ATS software so that it will reach a recruiter and another one for a human.
- Submit your resume in Microsoft Word format.
- Do not include tables in formatting the text.
- PDF or other formats might not be able to be read into every type of ATS software. Be aware that there are many ATS providers, including archaic and new versions. As a candidate, you have no way of knowing which one your resume will have to deal with.
- The use of resume templates is discouraged.
- Use the customary section headers for sections and put them on separate lines.
- Type those section headers in all capital letters, such as PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE but do not type in all caps anything. Use a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence or course and for all proper nouns.
- Be consistent when listing your previous companies and titles—whichever you want to list first for emphasis.
- The proper format is to list a company name with its appropriate suffix such as Inc. or LLC. Otherwise, the company name could be confused with someone’s name.
- The resume sections should be separated by a blank line, but never add a blank line within a paragraph.
- No need to number the pages because for a computer, all of the information is continuous. Your page number would wind up appearing at random somewhere in the middle of the document.
As you can see, numerous facts may appear as details, but as another adage goes, “The devil is in the details,” and that notion could be crucial and decisive for your career.
by Alex Freund