5 Secrets to Resume Success

Tips to Get Past the ATS and Impress the Hiring Team

The most successful resumes are targeted to a desired job, with a clear focus. In other words, you need to target your resume to the job posting.

Every other resume writing trick you implement is useless if your resume never gets seen in the first place because you didn’t target your resume to the desired job.

Realize that the company you're applying to has a specific job to fill with specific duties, skills and requirements and is trying to find the BEST match for that job.

To help them find the best match, they use applicant tracking software (ATS) to search for important key words, skills, duties and requirements from the job posting in each resume. If your resume does not have those key words, you aren’t picked up as a possible candidate for that particular job.

Once you figure out what type of job you’re looking for next, study multiple postings for that job title that you want to apply to, picking out or highlighting keywords and requirements that seem to hold the most weight.

While resume trends come and go and recruiters’ opinions change, these five tried and true tips are something we can all agree on.

1. Use real estate wisely. Cut the clutter in both appearance and content. Best practices include:

  • Using clear and consistent formatting

  • Using bullet points to convey work experience in a concise format

  • Removing irrelevant information such as hobbies, photos, and graphs

  • Making the most of valuable space by adhering to margins and ensuring appropriate font size (10-11 point)

  • Use keywords, phrases and requirements throughout your experience section.

2. Focus on relevant experience

If you’re new to the workforce and don’t have much experience under your belt, consider adding relevant internships, school projects, or volunteer experience to round out the body of your resume.

Consider a skills section in the margin, which is easily digestible for the reader. Avoid general statements like “Quick Learner” and “Problem Solver.” Instead, provide a snapshot of tangible skills like “English/Spanish Bilingual, Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Excel.”

Use keywords, phrases, and requirements found in the job description and company website throughout your experience section.

3. Ditch the objective statement

This tells the recruiter what they already know. Your objective is to be hired for the job. Consider using an executive summary in its place. This should be directly below your contact information and emphasize your qualifications for the particular job you are applying to.

Most hiring professionals spend less than sixty seconds reading a resume. Chances are, if they don’t read your entire resume, they will at least scan this section.

"To succeed in today's job market, you have to think of your resume as an advertisement targeted towards your future boss" – Unknown

4. Highlight accomplishments instead of job duties

Include real outcomes when appropriate (i.e., reduced turnover by 5%, achieved quality score of 98% for three months in a row).

Resist the urge to copy and paste your job description in to your resume. Employers care more about your accomplishments than your day-to-day responsibilities.

5. Don’t ignore the basics

Ensure your contact information is prominent and current. Spending hours perfecting your resume is a waste of time if the recruiter can’t contact you for an interview. If you are in a creative field, consider adding a link to your online portfolio site. Work in a more traditional field? Consider adding your LinkedIn profile.


Once you have updated your resume with these 5 steps, it will give you a better chance of passing through the software, and be easier for an actual human reader to see you as a great fit for the job.

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