Applicant Tracking Systems and Resumes

Today’s jobseekers need to think about one more type of audience when preparing their resume. In the past, one simply had to send their resume and a person would scan it, but today’s employers are also relying on Applicant Tracking Systems.When you have both technology and the human reviewer looking at your resume, there are some things that need to be done differently on the resume. Here are common subtle mistakes people make that should be avoided:

1. Missing space between the slash (/).

While you may think your resume is covering the bases by including key terms between slashes, it may actually be missing the mark when you don’t have a space between it. For ex. “Financial Analyst/Business Analyst” looks fine to the human eye, but to the Applicant Tracking System, it does not recognize the “/” as a break between words if the search criteria the employer puts in is only for the terms “Financial Analyst” and “Business Analyst.” You’re better off adding a space before and after the “/,” like “Financial Analyst / Business Analyst.”

2. Listing more than one job title and employment periods under one employer.

Applicant Tracking Systems have a method to scanning resumes. It looks for dates to locate job titles and employers. When you indicate multiple job titles and dates under one employer, it confused the ATS. Only list one period of employment with each employer like this:
•XYZ Company, Office Manager / Executive Assistant / Administrative Assistant (2010-Present)OR
•XYZ Company, Office Manager (2010-Present)
Started as an Administrative Assistant and earned promotions to Executive Assistant and Office Manager.

3. Including your zip code.

Applicant Tracking Systems will also look at your city, state and zip code to determine if you are in a commutable distance and if you are not, you will be de-ranked. You do not need a street address but whether you are relocating or not, the zip code must be within a commutable distance.

4. Not following a writing format that is Applicant Tracking Systems-friendly.

Applicant Tracking Systems have a certain way of reading and deciphering information. It identifies your position by looking for a pattern of information like Company name, Title, and Dates of employer – and they must be on your resume in that order. When you add other information like Company name followed by some brief information about the employer (for ex. “Leading provider in…), it messes up how the software is to read your information.

5. Using an email address that dates yourself.

Yes, your email address can reveal a lot more than you think. Typically anyone using an AOL email address is over the age of 45. Also, an email address with numbers like johnsmith1970@…. is often interpreted as the year of birth. Avoid dating yourself by simply signing up for a free Gmail email address and not including any numbers. Keep it simple like your first name, last name or brand it to your profession or industry like TaxExpert@…..

6. Not including a Profile Summary at the beginning of your resume.

The word “profile” or “summary” tells the Applicant Tracking Systems what section follows. Without it, the system can skip the entire section. So make sure your resume has these important keywords.

7. Indicating you have over 25 or 30 years of experience.

When you have a significant amount of experience working in the field or industry, avoid specifying a random number like “30 years of experience.” What you want to do is round it off like “20+ years of experience.” And when you list your experience, don’t go too far back. Employers are generally interested in the last 10-15 years of your work experience – anything beyond that is often ignored.

8. Burying experience with well-known companies.

Experience working with well-known companies in your field or industry is a major attraction to potential employers, so don’t bury it at the bottom of your resume or on the second page. If you worked for Microsoft 10 years ago, don’t let it be buried on page two. Mention it upfront, like in your Profile Summary and in your cover letter.

All of these pointers may appear simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many jobseekers miss the mark on job opportunities because of it. Don’t be one of them!

the author is Don Goodman



Your connection Lisa has endorsed you for skills listed on your profile. Endorsements help show what you’re great at.

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Recommendation from an Expert

From Sandy Wysocki
To Doris Appelbaum

Dear Doris,
I’ve written this recommendation of your work to share with other LinkedIn users.

“Doris is a very driven and determined business owner that brings passion to her work as an advisor to job seekers. Her expertise in resume writing and consulting is unmatched and her track record speaks for itself. She is known both nationally and internationlly for her work with members of the armed forces and is a frequent speaker on job placement issues. She is a tireless networker and an advocate for those looking to improve their career status. I highly recommend Doris as an experienced professional…and a great friend!”

Avoid Resume and Cover Letter Mistakes

The top mistake job seekers make is failing to even include cover letters for resumes. No recruiter wants to waste time on an applicant who can’t be bothered to complete this simple step. Read on to learn about the other common mistakes job seekers make on their resumes and cover letters.

Keyword Stuffing and Cramming in Too Much
Yes, you definitely want to use keywords that parrot the “must haves” HR is looking for in candidates for a specific position, but there’s an art to keyword use. If you overuse key buzzwords or use them in unnatural ways, it will be obvious you’re trying to pad your resume with certain keywords. Sure, your resume may pass the automated screening system, but it will likely turn off live recruiters.

Another common mistake recruiters hate? Use of tiny fonts and trying to load in as much information as possible. Any skilled executive resume writing professional will tell you it is far better to use fewer words but more effectively highlight your most important skill sets.

Making Careless Errors
It seems like a no-brainer, but a shocking percentage of cover letters and resumes include not only grammatical errors, but spelling errors that could easily be avoided by simply performing a quick spell check. Especially when you have your eye on an executive-level position, spelling errors are completely unacceptable. They tell potential employers you are careless and do not pay attention to details. Those are definitely not traits that will land you a job or even an interview.

Being Vague and General
Keep in mind recruiters may receive thousands of resumes. Winning resumes provide a quick punch list of your specific skills. Instead of stating on your resume you “worked with the marketing staff,” state you “led a team of six lower-level employees and boosted productivity 45 percent while reducing expenditures by $2.7 million.”

Not Selling Yourself
When you’re seeking a c-level or any other executive-level position, don’t risk missing out on the perfect, lucrative opportunity because your resume does not impress sufficiently to land an interview. Once you make it to the interview phase, you can sell yourself in great detail and show the hiring authorities why you are the right candidate. However, you can’t sell yourself in person if you don’t first sell yourself on paper with a resume and cover letter that stands out.

contributed by Erin Kennedy

Cover Letter Tips

There are three basic parts to a cover letter:

◾An introduction – a statement of who you are and why you are sending the letter

◾A sales pitch – an overview of your qualifications, skills, abilities, and accomplishments as related to the employer’s needs

◾A call to action – a request for a specific action such as an interview

Ideally, you will cover these three basic parts in just 3 – 5 concise paragraphs typed on one page. Each letter should be personalized, but you can work from the same initial template.

If you need someone to prepare your letter(s), contact my company for details.


According to Erin Kennedy – Invest in Skilled Professional Help

When you’re seeking a c-level position, your c-level resume should change with each job you apply for. This can be time-consuming and a bit mind-boggling if writing isn’t your forte. Don’t risk losing out on a perfect position because your resume or cover letter wasn’t up to par. Do yourself a favor and hire a pro with a proven track record.

I totally agree!!


This advice was found on a LinkedIn post; I totally agree!

The cover letter should accompany the resume, and its importance cannot be stressed enough. While it may be true that some hiring managers do not read cover letters, send one anyway. After all, you do not know into which group your targeted hiring manager falls. In their book Cover Letter Magic, Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark explain that in a cover letter “you can pick and choose the skills and qualifications you want to highlight in each letter based on the requirements of a particular position. Cover letters give you the platform to create a vision of who you are that relates directly to the company’s or recruiter’s hiring criteria…” Thus the purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and clearly define who you are; to highlight your most notable qualifications; identify the value you bring; capture your reader’s interest in you; and motivate the reader to read your resume and call you for an interview. You must send a unique and personalized cover letter with each resume you send out; no “To Whom It May Concern” here. If you don’t know the name of the person, there are ways to find it out, but you must personalize the letter and its contents.

Difficult Interview Question

The one dreaded question that is guaranteed to come up in every interview is “What is your greatest weakness?” Perhaps it’s the interviewer’s way of weeding out candidates to see who is truly prepared to answer this uncomfortable question. Regardless, you can remove some of the awkwardness by prepping for the question and following these rules.

1. Don’t give a cop-out answer

Please don’t give tired answers like, “My greatest weakness is that I’m too much of a perfectionist/workaholic.” Perhaps it is true for you, but unfortunately, it may ring false to the interviewer who is used to hearing these generic answers that come off as a way to dodge the question.

2. Be honest

Dig deep into yourself and figure out what your true weaknesses are at work. Write them down on a sheet of paper, and figure out which ones you can use in an interview. If you state a weakness you’ve struggled with, your answer will sound more honest. Some things that will help you come up with true weaknesses is to look at some of the challenges you have faced in your previous jobs or think about constructive criticism you’ve received from a manager.

3. Avoid deal breakers

Although we mention that you should be honest, it’s also good to remember that there is such a thing as being too honest. You need to avoid weaknesses that will hurt your chances of getting the job. For example, say if you’re applying for an HR position and you say that you’re not good with people, or if you’re trying for a sales job and you say you are bad at negotiating. This doesn’t mean that you have to make up a weakness, but it’s just preferable for you to pick another weakness that isn’t a deal breaker.

4. Talk about your attempts to overcome your weakness

Always talk about the steps you have taken to overcome your weakness. This is your chance to show the interviewer that although you have your flaws, you are proactive and resourceful enough to overcome them. In a way, your effort to conquer your weaknesses will be looked at as a strength.