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How to Get Your Resume Past the Screening Process

resume writing how to break through the online screening process and get in front of the people who hire

Who has spent hours applying for online jobs only to never hear back from anyone?

This is a common problem especially for people who are applying for work at home jobs. There is typically not a chance that you will be able to meet someone in person before turning in your resume, so how do you break through the online job application process?

I invited Tammy Holloway-McCray of Javellar James Business Solutions to give us her tips for getting past the screening process and in front of the people who actually do the hiring!

Break Through the Online Job Application Process: Keeping your Resume ATS Friendly

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Searching through and applying for hundreds of posted jobs online can be tedious and exhausting. Endless hours of answering what seems to be pointless questions, only to get to the end to see the “Great! Don’t call us, We’ll call you” message after hitting the submit button. There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that searching for a job takes a lot of time, effort, and tenacity. This will likely never change as you always have to market yourself and every job won’t be your cup of tea. The good news is that there are strategies and some things you can do to make the job search process work more efficiently in your favor and give you more peace of mind when you hit that submit button.


The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) was created as a way for companies, both large and small to streamline the hiring process and make it easier to sort through hundreds of resumes. Some organizations will also say that it gives all potential applicants the same starting point so as to not grant any potential unlawful advantages in the hiring process.  


On average, one online job posting receives over 100 applications. So how do you stand out in a sea of online applicants all applying for one position? Here are a few ways you can allow your unique skills and valuable knowledge stand out.


Cater Your Resume To The Job Description

General resumes where you list your collection of different skills and experiences are no longer gaining the attention of those in charge of hiring. This is where a targeted job search strategy along with a targeted resume highlighting key knowledge, skills, and experiences become very important. For instance, if you have experience in banking and healthcare; you should have two resumes reflecting your separate set of skills and experience for one industry each.


There are many different types of Applicant Tracking System software and they all have different features. Some ask you to input keywords manually and some will automatically sort applicants based on how much the resume matches the job description. That’s why it’s important to have keywords relative to your experience and skills throughout your resume.


If you are applying for a Customer Service position, here are some (definitely not all ) examples of keywords you should mention throughout your resume:


  • Problem-Solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Listening
  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Product knowledge
  • Consumer
  • Market
  • Sales


You will need to read the job description thoroughly to determine the keywords they are looking for as it will be slightly different each time. This may seem like the most time-consuming part of the process but once it’s done you are pretty much all set.


Include All Required Documents

Companies oftentimes are under really tight deadlines to fill an open position. In order to avoid any delays in the hiring process, it’s important to attach all required documents in addition to your resume to the application at the time it is required. Some examples of documents you may be asked for:


  • Cover letter
  • Evidence of military status
  • Examples of previous work (if you are a freelancer)


It can be pretty time consuming when hiring personnel has to chase down documentation to complete an applicant file. Not only will this delay the hiring process, but some companies will eliminate you altogether from the applicant pool if they are missing.


Bonus Tip: Make sure your resume and documentation are in the proper format such as .doc, .docx, and .pdf are universally accepted. Try to avoid the use of clip art, pictures, or fancy graphic design as Applicant Tracking Systems have trouble reading most of these items.


Fully Answer Every Question

As daunting as the application itself can be, treat it like the first stage of the interview process. If you are given the space, answer each question fully using keywords and cater your answer to the job description. Most recruiters won’t see too many other applications with answers like this on the online application. This is another area for you to shine and stand out from the other 100+ applicants.


Double check your grammar and spelling. There’s nothing like reading an awesome response, only to find numerous typos throughout the application. This can also get you eliminated from further consideration.


Consider This: Research the company, figure out why you want to work for them specifically. Use that ‘why’ to craft your answers to questions like, “Why do you feel you are the best candidate?”


Be Social

The convenience of being able to apply for jobs in the comfort of your home is a plus. However, we know that over 75% of job offers are made to people within the same network. Whenever possible, make a human connection.


This will take some super sleuthing skills but it’s a surefire way to get you noticed and get your application and resume personally selected for human eyes. Look for contact names within the job description. Once you find that name, look for them on LinkedIn. There are two ways you can approach introducing yourself.


First, look to see if you have any mutual connections. If you do this is great! Send a message to your mutual connection and ask to be introduced to the job contact. Using your network of LinkedIn connections to introduce you to the recruiter provides an added level of awareness of your name as well as a trust factor. Once you’ve connected you can proceed to the next step, sending the message to introduce yourself. If you do not have any mutual connections that’s ok! Go ahead and send a connection request. If it’s a small organization, be bold and connect directly with the CEO!


When they accept your request, this is your opportunity to send a message with the sole purpose of building rapport. Give at least two examples of why you think the company is doing great things in their industry. This tells the reader that you are serious about the company and you have done your homework. Open the door for conversation, and wait for their reply. In your second message, let them know you have applied for their open position. This a great time to give one example of how you brought quantifiable value to our previous company.

You’re now a name to be remembered!

Tammy Holloway-McCray is an expert in business management and helping businesses create work flows that help them run more efficiently. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration and Masters in Adult Learning and Development from Cleveland State University. You can read more about her on her site Javellar James.

online resume tips for breaking through the screening process

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