5 Resume Strategies: Get out of the Applicant Vortex & Into the Candidate Pool

There’s something about a new year AND a new decade that gets people thinking about making big changes in their lives. For some, this includes looking for a new job.  If this is you or someone close to you, you probably know about the horror stories of applying for jobs on-line, never to hear a peep in return -- tens, even hundreds of resumes into a black hole!!!


Well, the truth is, applying for a job on-line today usually means an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) using Artificial Intelligence (AI), NOT a human recruiter, screens your resume. So I'm going to get right to it and provide you with what you need to know in the most direct and concise way possible. I know, it's a lot, but your efforts will pay off. Take these steps NOW to help you get out of that applicant vortex and into the candidate pool!


DISCLAIMER:  Certain fields/roles may require more comprehensive resumes or CVs (e.g., academic, international and some scientific roles).




Starting with the format, your fancy resume is no good here!! Submit resumes in Microsoft WORD unless instructed otherwise. The other common format is PDF, but do NOT upload a format that is not specified. Remember to eliminate fancy formatting to keep from confusing the ATS:  fonts, graphics, boxes, photos, etc.   Use a chronological format as ATS' use dates to calculate your experience.   


You've heard it before, please limit your resume to TWO pages and 15 years of experience, and place your education in the last section of your resume unless recently completed. 



I cannot stress this enough: REVIEW and EDIT your resume for EACH role to which you apply and place the most relevant information in the top third of your resume -- the most valuable resume real estate. You'll also want to use EACH posting’s keywords throughout your resume as appropriate because the ATS will use those keywords to assess your qualifications.  Jobscan.co is a great on-line tool that helps you optimize your resume keywords for each job listing to increase your chances of making it to the candidate pool.



Highlight your greatest accomplishments by quantifying your work and results. Questions to ask yourself and things to consider as you're building your resume:

  • What was your specific role and what specific skills did you use? 
  • What impact did YOU make/problem did you solve?
  • Identify span of responsibility (number of projects, clients, or cases; number of people trained or served; notable interfaces e.g., other departments, external contacts, leadership levels, etc.). 
  • Quantify resources managed and results (size of team, budget; efficiencies gained, innovations, increased sales, etc.).
  • Did you exceed expectations?  


I recommend that clients write their own resumes, especially if you struggle with promoting your accomplishments.  By recounting, quantifying and distilling your responsibilities and accomplishments, you communicate them with greater clarity, authenticity and confidence during an interview and while networking.


Even though I recommend doing the writing yourself, consulting with a career coach provides personalized attention that helps you identify the most important parts of your experience to highlight given the roles for which you are applying.


If you are unable to work directly with a career coach, check any university career site for the latest resume/career advice and updates on trends and technology. They provide valuable information to help their students find the best opportunities upon graduation and beyond.



It's always great if you can avoid the ATS for as long as possible. Making LIVE connections through your network can take you a long way in the job hunting process. Eventually, you'll likely have to submit your application electronically, but you may have an upper hand by having advocates within the company or close to its employees.  In these cases, having two resumes can be helpful.


When personally distributing your resume, you can use a more fancy, eye-catching format. Just know that you'll need to submit a different resume when you have to formalize your application on line.



To get your copy of my resume tip sheet AND a list of action verbs to help ENERGIZE your resume, click the button below to download the document.

I hope you find these strategies helpful. Let me know how it goes in the comments section below.

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Nina (Friday, 31 January 2020 09:48)

    Excellent Robin! Can you write about “aging-out” of corporate America jobs?! It’s a real issue with misguided principles about why hiring people over 50 (though legally this cant be admitted to) is not advantageous (salary requirements, agility in roles, etc)... My thoughts!!!