There are contradictory trends in resume writing that confound even professional resume writers:
- Do you write for the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or design an “eye candy” infographic resume?
- Do you write a shorter resume like hiring managers say they want or a longer resume that gives you a better chance at hitting the key words and phrases required by the ATS?
Let’s take a look at the problematic trends for solutions that can be incorporated into your career document plans.
ATS vs infographic
Two recent trends are ATS-friendly resumes and infographic resumes. The choice can cause confusion for a candidate because the two types of resumes have opposing looks and uses.
An ATS is a database employers use to collect and analyze resumes from candidates. An ATS is a computer and as such loves data. Employers use them to match requirements for a position with information from a resume to see if the applicant is a good bet as an employee. To keep an ATS happy, you need to provide that match.
An ATS-friendly resume contains no graphics, boxes or other images, no italics or underlined text. A sans-serif font such as Arial, Calibri, or Verdana is best to ensure that letters don’t touch each other. All lines are flush left.
An infographic resume is a high-design document that focuses more on catching the eye and illustrating a career through graphic elements and images.
Each type of resume has merits when used in the appropriate way for the right goal. For example, if you are primarily applying for jobs online, where your resume will most likely encounter an ATS, the simply formatted ATS-friendly resume is the ticket. If you are a graphic artist, photographer, or in another profession that would benefit from presenting information visually, an infographic resume works well, as long as you are not applying online. The secret is to use each type in the way it was intended.
Some resumes can be used both as a presentation resume and ATS resume. The risk you run with this strategy is that a resume an ATS will like will be quite plain.
The best choice I have found is to create two resumes, a presentation resume for human eyes that will be handed out at interviews and networking occasions, and an ATS-friendly resume to use for online application.
The perennial question, “How long should my resume be?” has a short answer and a long answer:
Short Answer: As long as it needs to be to represent your value to a prospective employer.
Long Answer: Career Directors International conducted a study of this question several years ago and found even these answers contradictory. The study results showed that when asked how long a resume should be, hiring managers and recruiters said, “SHORT!”
However, when presented with a well-written short resume and a well-written longer resume for the same candidate, most hiring managers said they preferred the longer resume because it presented more relevant data about the person they were considering hiring.
So, given a poorly written resume, hiring managers plead for brevity. Given the opportunity to see relevant information about a candidate, hiring managers choose the longer form.
To complicate matters further, if you are applying online, you are better off writing a longer resume because it gives you more chances to use relevant key words and phrases to keep the ATS happy.
The presentation resume that you distribute at an interview, on the other hand, can be shorter because the interviewers have already seen the information, and this is an opportunity to remind them of specific points relevant to their needs.
If keeping up with resume writing trends isn’t at the top of your priority list, contact me today. It’s at the top of my list every day.
Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici at Freedigitalphotos.net.