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How to Beat the Resume Bots

How to Beat the Resume Bots

Did you know that 75% of job applications are rejected before a pair of eyes even lay on it? Now more than ever, employers will be utilizing application tracking systems (ATS) to filter out candidates’ resumes. Millions of people looking for new employment opportunities and an ATS helps hiring professionals to weed out resumes to make the hiring process more manageable. So, how can you optimize your resume to get past the resume bots and into the hands of the hiring manager?

What is an application tracking system?

An ATS is essentially a software hiring professionals use to collect, sort, scan, and rank the job applications they receive. They are basically a gatekeeper for employers and recruiters to efficiently filter out or find candidates for open positions. ATS software was initially designed for larger corporations that receive thousands of applications each week but are commonly used by many employers to streamline their hiring processes.

So, how can job seekers get past these resume bots and get their resumes seen by a human being?

Clean formatting and layout

ATS is a piece of software – it can’t use logic to analyze unique resumes with fancy designs. In other words, your resume should have a clean format and layout. Don’t try and cram everything on a single page (your resume can be longer), don’t hide your contact details, omit any graphics or headshots, and use a standard font and headings. Also, be sure to save your resume as a Word document or PDF file because 43% of resumes are submitted in an incompatible file type. Keep it simple and easy to read if you want to get past the resume bots.

Use keywords from the job description

If you want your resume to enter a hiring manager’s hands, you must tailor your resume. Gone are the days of submitting the same resume over and over and hoping your get a call to schedule an interview. To get past an ATS, you need to include keywords and phrases that match the job description. The ATS is looking for specific skill sets, experiences, certifications, and other essential qualifications. Take time to review the job description and tweak your resume carefully so it matches it (without lying about your qualifications, of course). If you don’t tailor your resume for each position, the ATS will filter you out no matter how strong of a candidate you are.

Use bulleted lists

Bulleted lists are easy for both bots and humans to read. You can use lists for your accomplishments, skills section, and job duties. However, it’s best to keep it simple. Don’t use fancy bullet points or other indications for your bullets. Stick to classic bullet points like solid circles, squares, or dashes to ensure your resume is compatible with an ATS. We often see elaborate bullet points that you might think make your resume stand out but, in reality, are impossible for an ATS to scan and comprehend.

Need more resume advice?

These are three simple ways you can optimize your resume to beat the bots. If you are looking for more resume advice, check out our resume resources page. We have dozens of helpful tips, tricks, and insight to help your job search end with an offer letter.

How to Shorten Your Resume

How to Shorten Your Resume

Have you ever spent a decent chunk of time updating your resume only to review it and ask yourself, “Is my resume too long?” Most of us have been in this position before; it can be challenging to shorten your resume without removing crucial skillsets, achievements, or working experience. Here are a few easy tips to trim down your resume.

Keep your resume objective short

More and more job seekers are including a resume objective, and that’s great. We encourage it, especially if you have been unemployed due to the pandemic. A resume objective is an excellent means to express your career goals, share what you are looking for in a new job, and explain why you may be out of work or transitioning into a new career path. However, an objective should be brief, just a sentence or two in length. If you feel the need to explain anything else, you can easily do so in your cover letter. Keeping your resume objective concise will help you shorten your resume without trimming any of your work experience.

Reduce your education section

Another easy way to shorten your resume is to slim down your education section. Your education is essential, and you should be proud of it, but you can keep it relatively short if you are an experienced job seeker. If you are 5+ years into your career, you can safely remove your GPA, course work, and other details. In most cases, all you need is your university or program’s name, the degree or certificate you received, and the date you completed your education. That’s it! Hiring managers and recruiters don’t care that you took a Macro Economics class if you are applying for a leadership role that has nothing to do with econ.

The only exception here is if you are fresh out of school. If you recently graduated, then you can leave some more details about your education.

Cutback irrelevant working experience

If you still need to shorten your resume, try cutting back some of your more irrelevant working experience. Many job seekers feel obligated to put every single job they have ever had on their resume. Instead, only include relevant work history if you are further into your career. A great example of this is internships or summer jobs. If you are 15 years into your career, you don’t need to put your four-month job at Dairy Queen on there. Remove any unnecessary work experience to make your resume more concise, giving you more room to elaborate on your more relevant work experience.

Remove your headshot

If you are one of those who have a headshot on the top of your resume, you can eliminate that to save some space. Your headshot has no place on your resume, and it can actually hurt your chances of advancing through the interview process. Also, with an increased emphasis on diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts, a picture of yourself can hinder your chances of securing an interview. Plus, it frees up some valuable real estate on your resume!

Does my resume have to be one page long?

So, those are four easy ways to shorten your resume. If you are trying to shorten because you feel your resume needs to be on a single page, stop right there. It is acceptable to have a resume longer than a single page in most circumstances. By keeping it under a page, you can be leaving off valuable skills and experiences. For more details on the one-page resume, check out our blog here.

Should My Resume Be One Page?

Should My Resume Be One Page?

Many of you are diligently working on updating your resume in hopes of finding a new career opportunity. You start adding all your unique skills and updating your work experience, and suddenly, you are running out of space on that one-page resume. So, you begin to think, should my resume be on one page? The short answer is, no, it can surpass one page in length. A one-page resume is one of the biggest resume myths out there – here’s why.

Emphasis on skills and resume objective

In 2021, candidates should emphasize their skills (both soft and hard) and possibly add a resume objective. 2020 was a crazy year, and many of you will have a job search story to tell. An easy way to give a brief overview of your job search is a resume objective. If you are currently unemployed due to the coronavirus, you can illustrate that in your objective. Or, if you are looking for a new opportunity to grow your career, you can express that in this section as well. The resume objective should go at the top, underneath your contact details, and only be a sentence or two. Adding an objective can easily bring your resume over one page long.

Additionally, we recommend adding a skills section to your resume. The best way to format your skills section is with a bulleted list of all the skills that coincide with the job description. If you have twelve or more skills, you can quickly bump your resume beyond the one-page mark. Therefore, don’t feel obligated to limit your resume to one page while adding these useful sections to your resume.

You have too much work experience to cram on one page

If you are fresh out of school or have only been working for a couple of years, you want to aim for the one-page mark. However, if you are 10 years or more into your career, you have likely held several titles or worked for multiple companies. Thus, it is nearly impossible to cram all of that great working experience onto a single page. Don’t do yourself an injustice by eliminating valuable working experience just to reduce your resume to one page. By trimming significant accomplishments, skills, or other experiences, you can be hurting your chances of landing a job.

Or, if you are applying for a leadership role, there is absolutely no way you should be cutting things out of your resume to make it fit onto one page. If you have 20+ years of experience or the job is for a management position, you won’t make the cut by removing your valuable responsibilities, achievements, and leadership skills.

You should be tailoring your resume

If you tailor your resume for each job application, it is almost impossible to keep your resume under one page. When you tailor your resume, you examine the job description and pick out the essential qualifications they want. Once you know what the hiring manager is looking for, you can tweak how you phrase specific duties, responsibilities, and other information to align with the job description. This makes it easy for hiring managers to see that you are a good fit for the job and improve your odds of receiving a job interview. So, if you are making the most of your resume by tailoring it, don’t be afraid to go beyond a single page.

Need more resume advice?

So, next time you ask yourself whether your resume should be one page, remember these three points. If you are searching for more resume advice to help secure a new job this year, review our candidate resources on our blog!

Having Your Picture on A Resume Could Hurt Your Job Search

Having Your Picture on A Resume Could Hurt Your Job Search

You decided to update your resume to kick off your 2021 job search. Instead of just making a few tweaks, you are completely rebuilding it from scratch; you are crafting a new skills section, updating your work experience, and adding a resume objective. You start to look at templates online to give your resume a little flare and notice some with a space for a headshot. So, you begin to think, “should I add a picture of myself on my resume?” Having your picture on a resume could hurt your job search – here’s why.

Diversity and inclusion hiring efforts

Many companies are focusing on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in their hiring efforts this year. Companies across the country are implementing new DEI policies to offer safe and fair hiring practices and committing to hiring more diverse talent in 2021. Therefore, adding your picture to your resume could hurt your chances of receiving a callback due to an increased emphasis on DEI hiring. Your image can also trigger unconscious biases of hiring professionals, so it’s best to leave your photo off your resume.

It can be distracting

In 2021, there will be a ton of competition for job seekers. You will be going head-to-head with many other talented people, and you cannot afford any distractions. And that is what your photo on your resume will do – distract. If you put your headshot (or any image) on your resume, it pulls the attention away from your skills, work experience, and background. Many people believe adding a photo of themselves will make their resume stand out in a sea of applicants. However, as a recruiter or hiring manager sifts through endless resumes, the last thing they want to see is a headshot of a candidate. They are looking for your qualifications, not a tiny thumbnail image of yourself. Keep the attention on your skills by omitting your headshot on your resume.

It takes up too much space

When crafting your resume, you only have so much space to convey your work experience and other qualifications. Typically, your resume is a very concise document, with only a page or two (depending on the stage of your career) to share your qualifications with a hiring manager or recruiter. Why take up valuable space with a headshop instead of using that area to add more skills, certifications, or other information? Adding a headshot doesn’t add as much value as your skill sets and experience.

There are a few exceptions

These are three reasons why having your picture on your resume can hurt your job search. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, it is customary for some countries to have a resume picture, such as Spain, Germany, and Italy. In some industries, it may be acceptable to use a photo, too. Although you generally want to avoid using a resume photo in the United States, it’s ultimately up to you. If you are going to use one, please make sure it is a professional headshot.

Here is how and where you should use a professional headshot

A professional headshot doesn’t necessarily have to be taken by a professional photographer – it just has to look professional. Use great natural lighting, have a neutral background, dress for success.

Make sure your photo is from the shoulders up. The point of a headshot is to see your face, not your entire body.

Don’t crop yourself out of a picture with others. It looks cheesy and unprofessional. Sorry, you cannot crop yourself out of a wedding photo with your spouse!

Upload your professional headshot to your LinkedIn profile, professional online portfolio, or add it to your email account. These are all excellent ways to show off your headshot without including it on your resume.

If you want more advice on how to take a DIY professional headshot, check out our guide below!

Is Writing Cover Letters Worth Your Time?

Is Writing Cover Letters Worth Your Time?

Cover letters are often considered the most despised step in a job application process. Many job seekers don’t see the point in submitting a cover letter anymore as there is some debate about whether hiring managers or recruiters even read them. Well, according to a recent study from ResumeGO, 87% of hiring managers still read cover letters, and the majority utilize them in making hiring decisions. So, is writing cover letters worth your time? Here are a few examples of when cover letters can help put you over the edge during the hiring process.

When do hiring managers or recruiters utilize cover letters?

Some hiring managers and recruiters dismiss the value of cover letters; however, many others find them useful in making their hiring decisions. It may depend on the industry or the seniority level (i.e., a senior leadership role versus an entry-level role). Here are a few examples of when cover letters are commonly read:

  • For candidates that have a strong background in another field or industry
  • For candidates that are on the fence about moving forward in the process
  • When a candidates’ resume raises questions
  • For the candidates at the top of the hiring managers’ list
  • When writing skills play a significant role in the job opening (for example, a communications or marketing professional)

There are other scenarios when hiring managers will read your cover letter, but these are the top five.

When your cover letter won’t get read

There are a few situations in which your cover letter won’t be read. It’s true; most hiring authorities will read a candidates’ resume before they even touch the cover letter. So, if you apply for a job that you are completely unqualified for, don’t be surprised if your cover letter gets skipped over. Another scenario where your cover letter will get pushed to the wayside is if your resume has poor formatting or is riddled with grammatical errors. If your resume is a hot mess or has tons of spelling errors, a hiring manager will likely move on to the next candidate.

A final reason a hiring manager will ignore your cover letter is if it isn’t tailored. A hiring professional can tell after reading your cover letter for a few seconds if you took the time to personalize it for the position. For example, when the letter isn’t addressed to the hiring manager (to whom it may concern won’t cut it) or the opening line is too generic. If you don’t spend the time to tailor it for the position, then hiring managers won’t take the time to read it.

In other words, if you are not qualified or your application materials are not up to par, then yes, your cover letter won’t get read.

So, what’s the verdict?

Yes, some hiring professionals dismiss cover letters while others only use them in certain situations. But the verdict here is they cannot hurt your application if they are thoughtfully crafted. If you are qualified for the job and your resume reads well, there is a substantial chance it will be reviewed. Your cover letter can add clarity to your candidacy and even help propel you above your competition. This will be even more important in today’s market, where there are many more job seekers out there. Therefore, writing a cover letter is worth your time; however, you must tailor it and spend time to create a document that sheds some light on your skillsets.

Four Essential Job Search Tips Everyone Should Follow

Four Essential Job Search Tips Everyone Should Follow

If one of your goals for 2021 is to find a new job, you are probably looking for some tips or tricks to help your search end successfully. Searching for a new job can be stressful, especially if you are currently out of work. Lucky for you, you came to the right place! If you want this career transition to be smooth, here are four essential job search tips you should follow.

Set up job alerts

One of the biggest mistakes job searchers make is aimlessly scouring job boards for new postings. Many of us have been in this position before. You insistently check your go-to job boards or social media platforms for brand new job postings. This process can be time consuming and exhausting. Instead of checking your phone every other minute, sign up for job alerts. You can set up job alerts on almost any major job board, such as our Talent Network. You can set up specific job search parameters to receive notifications or emails when new jobs that match your criteria are available. Gone are the days of mindlessly refreshing job boards. Work smarter, not harder, and you will have more energy to pour into your search.

Tailor your resume and cover letter

After you set up your job search alerts, you can spend some of that extra time tailoring your resume and cover letter. Yes, we still recommend cover letters in this stiff job market. You can create templates for these two documents, but you should always take some time to tweak them for each application. For your resume, you want to mirror the job description and pinpoint things in your resume that fit well with the description. Essentially, you want to highlight your skills that match what the employer is looking for in a prospective candidate. In your cover letter, you get the opportunity to be a little more creative. This is your platform to elaborate on your background or skillsets that fit the company’s culture, industry, and mission or vision. Again, you can have a generic template for your cover letter, but you want to tweak it to help you stand out to a hiring manager or recruiter.

Network throughout your job search

Additionally, you want to continue to network throughout your job search. Join groups on social media, become affiliated with professional organizations, and engage with your network. If you are out of work, let your network know! There is no shame in being in-between jobs – it happens to more people than you may think. Share your resume with one of these groups, let old colleagues know you are searching, and introduce yourself to new professionals in your target companies or industries. You never know how a simple conversation can transpire into an interview. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Be engaging during your interview

Our final job search tip is to be engaging during your interview. Once you secure an interview, you have to do your homework. Research the hiring manager you are interviewing with, do a deep dive search on the company and practice commonly asked interview questions. However, the best way to be engaging is to have questions prepared ahead of time. Your interview will be much more interactive if you have questions ready to ask. This is how your interview can transition into a more casual conversation, allowing you to build rapport with your interviewer(s). Interviews can be awkward for both parties, but acting engaged throughout the entire interview will help you stand out and illustrate your interest in the position.

Are you looking for more job search tips?

So, there you have it. These four essential job search tips will help you excel in your search and improve your odds of securing an exciting opportunity. If you are looking for more job search tips, review our candidate resources! We have hundreds of helpful tips and tricks to share with you.

The 2021 Job Search Checklist

The 2021 Job Search Checklist

If you are ready to seek new employment opportunities in 2021, there are a few things you need to do to be successful. The labor market is still in recovery mode, and you will need to put in a little extra work to land a job this year. Here is the 2021 job search checklist to help ensure you land the job you’ve been working hard to find.

Are you ready to work remotely?

When you are looking for a new job this year, there are a few questions you should ask yourself; one of these questions is, are you ready to work remotely? Even after the virus is long-gone, remote work will be here to stay in some fashion. Many employers are permanently moving to remote working environments, while others will offer a hybrid system where you will work both onsite and at home. So like it or not, working from home is the new normal. And that’s not a bad thing! There are many benefits to working from home, like a more extensive job market pool for you to enter. You may no longer be restricted to local job opportunities. Remote work allows job seekers to apply for exciting opportunities across the nation or even globally.

Give your resume a facelift

Giving your resume an upgrade is one of the most critical points on this job search checklist. Your resume is often your first impression, and if it’s not up to par, you could be disqualified from the hiring process. In 2021, there will be a lot of competition throughout your job search. To stay a step ahead of your fellow job seekers, you must tailor your resume for each position. If you blindly submit your resume to every job posting you see, you won’t have a lot of luck. Quality is better than quality when it comes to your job search. Customize your resume objective, tweak your skills section, and reword your bullets to fit the job description better.

Look outside your current field

We have been talking about this a lot lately. 2021 may be the year of a career shift. And we are not just talking about switching jobs; we are talking about changing careers entirely or transitioning to an unfamiliar sector. Some industries are performing better than others right now, and it may be time to shift to one of these areas. If you have the right transferrable skills, your opportunities are virtually endless. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into a new career.

Network early and often

Another essential bullet point on the 2021 job search checklist is networking. Many people underestimate the value of networking. It unlocks doors to opportunities you would never find on job boards. Also, networking gives you a sense of camaraderie. If you have been hunting for a new job for a while, you are not alone. Networking allows you to share your stories with others that are also struggling and provides a platform to help one another out. You never know who can lead you in the right direction or make an introduction in your network. Network early and often to make the most out of your job search. And once you land a job, don’t forget to share with your network. They are invested in your career adventure and would love to share this exciting moment with you.

Partner with a recruiter

The final mark on the job search checklist is to reach out to a recruiter. If you really want to optimize your energy and time spent on your job search, work with a recruiting firm. Our JSG recruiters have access to exclusive job opportunities, work with clients that are ready to make hiring decisions immediately, and have your best interest at heart. Partner with us today and let us help you find your next job opportunity this year. Take a look at our job board and let’s work together.

How to Build A Professional Portfolio from Scratch

How to Build A Professional Portfolio from Scratch

Is it one of your new year’s resolutions to secure a new job? 2020 was a rough year, and the end is finally near. Millions of Americans are struggling to find new employment opportunities and looking for new strategies to lock down a new job. If you are searching for a way to stand out from your competition, it might be time to create a professional portfolio to show off some of your talents! Here’s how to build a professional portfolio from scratch to help you land a new job in 2021.

Platforms to build your portfolio

A common misconception for job seekers is that professional portfolios are only for designers or other creative roles. That is an urban myth that we are going to bust for you right now! Almost any job seeker can create a professional portfolio, regardless of what industry or role you are in. Another misconception is you have to know web design to construct your portfolio. A portfolio is, according to the career balance, “A collection of work and other documents that ideally provide a complete picture of a job candidate’s abilities to potential employers.”

There are dozens of different free and paid platforms to build and host your professional portfolio. Most of these platforms have templates you can start with to make the building process easy. Some popular examples are WixSquarespace, and Zyro. These sites will make it easy to build a portfolio from the ground up with absolutely no web design experience.

Keep the structure simple

When building your portfolio, keep the design simple. Make the structure easy for hiring managers to follow and read. This should be natural if you are using a template from one of the sites above! Have you heard of the expression KISS? Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t over-complicate it or try to get too fancy with it. Just make it clean, clear, and professional. Use consistent fonts and colors throughout, label pages and documents clearly, and ensure all links work correctly.

Ask a friend or someone else you trust to take a look at it before you publish it. It’s always a good idea to get a second pair of eyes on it to ensure it looks flawless.

The contents to include in your portfolio

A lot of people struggle with determining what to include in their professional portfolios. The contents of your portfolio will depend on your field in which you work. You can add some basic things: your resume, cover letter, career objective, links to examples of your work, and your contact details. This can include projects, press releases, blogs, images, spreadsheets, reports, and other works. As we said, the examples will depend on your field of work, but there are always items you can include to show off your expertise.

How to show off your professional portfolio

So, now that you have a sleek looking portfolio, what do you do with it? Well, for starters, you can add it to your LinkedIn profile. This will allow your connections, recruiters, and others to check out your resume and additional information about you. You can also add a link to your resumes and cover letters so hiring managers can see it right off the bat when you apply for jobs. If you feel a little more social, you can also share your portfolio with groups on social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook. These sites have groups 100% dedicated to job searches or other employment resources.

Plus, when you are filling out job applications, many of them ask for links to portfolios. That is the best place to drop those links and show off your skills!

2021 Resume Must-Haves

2021 Resume Must-Haves

If one of your new year’s resolutions is to secure a new job, know that it is a dog-eat-dog world out there. The job market is more competitive than ever, and employers are faced with difficult decisions when it comes to hiring people for their team. In order to set yourself apart, you must make some changes to your application materials. Here are three 2021 resume must-haves.

An Updated Skills Section

If you’ve been unemployed throughout 2020, hopefully, you’ve used that time wisely! Maybe you’ve taken an online course, taught yourself a new technique, or polished something you’ve been trying to add to your toolbelt. These new skills might not fit under an existing umbrella on your resume, so a “skills” section is an appropriate addition. Feel free to arrange them in a brief list using commas, or even bullet points if space allows.

A Resume Objective

It’s true that in the past, we have stated that resume objectives are unnecessary. However, everything has changed due to the global pandemic and multiple economic shutdowns. Many job seekers are venturing outside of their comfort zones, pivoting their careers, or applying for jobs that might not quite fit their surface-level qualifications. If this is you, it’s invaluable to explain your reason for applying to this specific position.

A Link To More Information

In such a competitive job market, it’s essential that you stand out on your 2021 resume. One great way to do this is by including a link to more information. This link could be to your LinkedIn profile, a website you designed, or a personal website featuring your portfolio.

One thing is for sure, navigating the job market in 2021 won’t be easy. But the good news is, you don’t have to do it alone! Explore our resources for more advice on job searching, resumes, interviewing, and more.

Resume Mistakes

This is One of the Biggest Resume Mistakes

With over 14.5 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits right now, many people around the country are working hard to update their resumes. Whether it’s been a few years or just a few months, updating your resume can be a daunting task. It’s very easy to update it once and submit your “masterpiece” with every job application you complete. However, not tailoring it is one of the biggest resume mistakes you can make. If you want to elevate your job search in today’s competitive job market, you must tailor each resume you submit.

You don’t have to rewrite your entire resume

Let us clear something up when we say you should be tailoring your resume for each position; we don’t mean you need to completely overhaul it. Rather, you must customize it to match each position. Chris Villanueva, Founder and CEO of resume writing company Let’s Eat, Grandma, articulated this well. In a recent interview on LinkedIn’s #GetHired Live, he suggests having a universal resume with all your basic information and positions but making “micro tweaks” for each job.

In other words, build a basic copy of your resume with your contact information, education, experience, and all of your other essential responsibilities. That will be your template. Then, before you apply for a new position, make these small tweaks to better match your resume to the position. Tailoring it will help you attract the eyes of hiring managers and recruiters, helping you avoid one of the biggest resume mistakes out there!

How to tailor your resume

Tailoring your resume to each new position may sound cumbersome. But with a resume template that you have thoughtfully crafted, it’s actually pretty easy. If you find a job that you would like to apply for, carefully review the job description and highlight the most critical skill sets, needs, or qualifications. Then, take a look at your resume and see what you need to add, remove, or tweak to make it better fit this position. It’s hard to customize a resume if you don’t understand what the hiring manager or recruiter is looking for in a potential candidate!

Looking to avoid more resume mistakes?

If you are looking for more resources for crafting the perfect resume, check out our candidate resources. We have dozens of blogs with helpful resume advice to help you secure your next opportunity!