Mixing the old with the new - screendoors and resumes

A few weeks ago my husband, Richard, and I visited my mom. She lives on her own, although at 80+, it's getting harder and harder for her to do so without help.

On this visit, I got my husband to replace the handle on her screen door. (I almost wrote "we replaced," but quite honestly, I didn't even watch, never mind help!)

A visit to the local Canadian Tire, new handle, random tools, and assorted paraphernalia in hand, Richard began his work.

By the end it was clear that not all of the old stuff would work with the new stuff and hubby couldn't use all the new parts. His solution was a hodge podge, but at least the handle was no longer a  hard to grip and uninviting looking handle, and the door could lock.

So often it's best to replace something in its entirety.

It's this way with resumes, too. An old version, maybe a template in its origins, with new bits and pieces added over the years, and perhaps more than one author along the way, often looks rather hodge-podgey. Rather than looking crisply designed, it feels random; rather than reading smoothly, it seems quite haphazard. It's like the difference between a fine, coordinated suit and tie versus your well-worn, at-home "comfies"; between a $40 and $7 bottle of wine; between a fun sundress from your local bargain shop and a custom made outfit.

Not much of a first impression, is it?

It's also this way with resumes that I first wrote for clients years ago. Recently a client from 2009 returned for a resume update. He said that he had added a few things over the years, but he now felt that it really needed my touch. And it did, from formatting to content, need my touch.

Since our initial work about eight years ago software has evolved, and the recruitment process has changed. His old version was no longer compatible with today's norms, not in the version of Word nor in the need to appease applicant tracking systems.

I overhauled it top to bottom, finessing even previously composed bullets (as many were shortened or even removed to keep his resume to two pages), ensured it met each of today's requirements. My client is once again ready to further his career as a top-notch Tool and Die Maker.

If your resume is anything other than pristine and crisp in its appearance and ultra-influential and targeted in its content, might I suggest that that may be the reason that you are not landing interviews? Sometimes it's not because recruiters don't know anything; sometimes it's because we are unwilling to spend the money on an entirely new "screen door"!


75% of resumes don't get through the applicant tracking system

Yes, dear readers, I've not yet covered this subject from every angle, it seems! This statistic comes from attendeding a Career Professionals of Canada members' virtual meet-up on the topic of today's resumes.

We discussed the folly of the functional resume and of resume templates, both still in wider use than we would expect today, given that both of these are quite useless when applying to positions in companies that rely on a applicant tracking system (ATS) to parse the many applicants' resumes. 

In case you're not sure what a functional resume is, it's the style with two to four functional areas highlighted (most often I have seen categories such as customer service and communications, and then a more specific-to-the-job category, for example, purchasing or technical knowledge), and then the employer names and dates are listed following these, with no further detail. And a resume template can be one you've found on the internet or one you "borrowed" from a friend's resume.

Both contribute to you scoring a very low mark on the ATS and thus both ensure you are NOT selected for an interview.

An interesting perspective came from CPC's Executive Director, Sharon Graham. Researching the ATS for her upcoming book, Sharon made a statement that I thought pointed to a profound insight. The ATS, she said, is set up to disqualify most applicants. By searching out who has made an effort to investigate the peculiarities of the ATS-friendly resume and also to include key words and phrases, by the act of selection it also disqualifies those who have not made the effort.

I'm not saying this is fair or even makes sense from the job hunter's point of view, but it is what it is. You do have every right, though, to be selected IF you put forth considerable effort, or alternatively, hire a career professional to assist you.

One more point that I want to make: not enough job hunters are aware of the need to navigate the ATS recruitment process. To drive this point I have two stories to share.

I am currently working with a client and I hear the disbelief in his voice and the hesitation of his responses to my lessons on why I wrote his resume the way I did as it relates to the ATS. Apparently he has a relative in HR and I think, perhaps, that this is where the disbelief is originating as not all companies use an ATS.

And finally, one of my colleagues has been working with a client, a company, on a recruitment related project. She was shocked when the client came up with resume templates as one of the aspects related to the project. She had to educate the client on why templates are not only ineffective in today's job hunt, but actually will disqualify the candidate (as per the above insight). The templates were scrapped and the project quickly "retooled" in response.

So, the ignorance of how the ATS works and how it impacts the job search is not only at the individual job hunter level, but also sometimes at the recruitment level!

To read the Forbes article that cites this statistic, go to "How to Get Your Resume Read by an Employer."