My resume has come a long way since my early days in college. It wasn’t pretty, let me tell you. It started as a multi-page monstrosity that included legitimately every job I’ve ever had since I was 15. Not a good look. Now, I have a lean, mean, fighting machine of a resume. That’s why I was so excited to partner with Monster to explore how to get your resume noticed!
If you’ve ever applied for a job in your life, you know how hard it is to get your resume noticed. Between hiring managers and resume scanning software, it seems like the “Submit” button is just a highway to the trash can. If you want to stop hiring managers in their tracks (cough, even if you don’t have a lot of experience, cough), you need a resume overhaul.
I didn’t start taking my resume seriously until my final semester of college. Then, I went into what can only be described as full-on panic mode. I basically lived in my college’s career center, but it didn’t give me the support I was looking for. I found myself using a lot of online resources, primarily Monster. Not only was I obsessively applying to jobs, but I was constantly creating new versions of my resume.
You would think I was creating some kind of Renaissance masterpiece with the amount of time I spent on my resumes. They were color coded. They had icons. They were geometric. They were a mood. Now, as a freelancer in her first year out of college, I’ve toned it back. Learning about how the hiring process is done online today has majorly opened my eyes to the best ways to supercharge my resume.
I have to break some news to you. When you submit your resume to most major companies online, there’s no human who reviews it. Yes, it’s true. A robot is the hiring manager…Hah, no, sorry. Not a robot. But it is a form of Artificial Intelligence.
This technology is known as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s the system your resume runs through before it even makes it in front of human eyes. Basically, there’s no magic trick to gaming this system, but it is looking for keywords. If your resume has complex formatting or doesn’t have the right keywords, it’s probably not going to make it through the scan.
Applicant Tracking Systems aren’t so bad. They save HR the hassle of wading through weak resumes, and they speed up the hiring process. The problem is when, even if you’re a strong candidate, your resume slips through the cracks of the system. So how do you make sure your resume is seen by an actual human being? Follow this ATS tips:
- Keep your resume simple. Scanners can’t read things like images or symbols.
- Reuse keywords and phrases from the job description. These are likely what the scanner is looking for.
- Check your spelling. Not only is a misspelled word unprofessional, but it won’t be registered by a scanner.
If you do these things above, you’ll make it past the big, bad robots!
The No Experience Dilemma
As a college student or soon-to-be-grad, you’re probably wondering what to do about your lack of experience. The good news is you probably have more experience than you think. If you’re in college, you have experience. It’s that simple.
My resume is a mix of professional experience, freelancing experience, leadership experience, and retail experience. It’s a mixed bag, but it worked. If you’re a club leader on campus, part-time employee, or intern, you’re in a great place to find good jobs. I’m a big advocate for making your own work experience. Now’s the time to freelance, start a blog, or get out into the community.
Look for experience in unexpected places with these tips:
- Leadership experience in clubs, groups, or organizations
- School projects for relevant classes
- Freelance work
- Volunteer experience
- Part-time jobs
Review with the Pros
It’s not enough to just have your roommate look over your resume. Your roommate/friend/mom isn’t a hiring manager (probably). It’s time to bring in backup to make sure your resume is ready to compete in the “real world.”
Monster offers a FREE resume assessment that gives detailed feedback so you can tailor your resume to your field. It’s so simple. You sign up for free, and then Monster asks you questions about your experience and your career goals. From there, you can upload your resume to their assessment software and you’ll hear back shortly.
When I got my feedback email I was so excited. I’m not going to lie, but I was pretty cocky. It’s not like I expected it to think I’m the most skilled candidate in the world, but I was sure it was near perfect for my experience level. Instead, I found highly-detailed feedback that showed specific ways I could improve my resume.
It goes through 3 different categories: visual appearance, content and language, and employer perception. I realized my employer perception wasn’t what I intended at all! I had a percentage of graphic design perception which isn’t something I’ve ever applied for.
I found the Resume Assesment on Monster to be an outstanding resource! I only wish I knew about it sooner because it was so helpful.
The biggest mistake is not using the free Resume Assesment, but I digress. As I said before, I made a lot of mistakes when I first was applying for jobs. I was in such a frenzy I didn’t have time to stop and think about any strategy. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have wasted so many opportunities!
Your resume isn’t cookie-cutter. You can’t make one version of your resume and use it to apply to different jobs. I recommend making one “master” version of your resume with all of your relevant experience, and then create a custom resume for every job listing. Once again, look at those keywords to make sure you make it through the ATS!
Skipping the Cover Letter
A lot of job applications today are cover-letter optional, especially entry-level positions. Always, always, always include a cover letter! It’s a great way to introduce yourself and show that you’re a strong communicator who actually did research about the position. Just do it!
You have 6 seconds to make an impression on the hiring manager. If your resume is too long, they’re not going to look through it at all. Monster has a helpful list of things to never put on a resume, so make sure you aren’t taking up valuable real estate with these no-nos.
Steering clear of these mistakes will keep your resume strong and scanner-proof. As a college student or recent grad, you can use a little boost. Showing you know how to create a resume and be professional is the first step to landing that job!
Landing the Job
Your resume is an introduction to who you are an employee, so you want to take it seriously. Now that you know about ATS and how to assess your resume for free on Monster, you’re ready to take your industry head on!
Once you’re ready to start your search, I highly recommend dedicating an hour every day to applying for jobs. It’s a numbers game, but looking in the right place is key. Monster has always been my job site of choice since it’s highly curated. You don’t have to weed through scammy job listings or things that don’t fit your skills. They make it easy to find the job you’re looking for without the hassle.
Is your resume job-market ready? Now that you know how to get your resume noticed, it’s time to get serious!