Here are some tips offered by career counselors and HR professionals on how to avoid the pitfalls in technology and get noticed by employers:
Be careful about shortcut services
A cottage industry has arisen around writing résumés in a way to “optimize” them for applicant tracking systems.
While it’s a good idea to seek advice and even professional counseling on how to write a good résumé — as well as how to do a good job interview — spending money on services that promise a quick and easy path to the top of the list is likely a waste.
The worst possible outcome is that an employer will notice that you have attempted to game the system and eliminate you for that reason.
One often-cited strategy is to list job description keywords in white font at the bottom of your résumé page in order to trick computer software. That is no good if your real skills don’t match those keywords.
“Everybody wants you to go on their website and apply,” said Dalton, a Henrico County resident. “Personal face-to-face interviews are almost nonexistent unless somebody gives you a call.”
“The fact is, if you do that, and you do get an interview, once (the interviewer) finds that you don’t have those skills, you are out,” career coach Bud Whitehouse said. “Not only are you out, but they are now angry because you have wasted their time.”
Focus your search
Sending out hundreds of résumés by sitting at a computer and clicking buttons won’t help if you don’t even know much about those jobs and you are not a good fit for the positions.
Concentrate on the jobs for which you have the right skills, and work to build human connections and relationships in those industries.
“Focus has become so important in the job search,” said Connie English, director of alumni career services for the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “If you know what it is that you are looking for and you are focused on that, then you can determine how to project that particular image.
“It is better to be an A-plus candidate for two jobs, than a B-plus candidate for a million jobs,” she said.
Most résumés simply list the chronological order of the job seeker’s work experience. But employers want to know the results.
When applying for a job, look carefully at the job description and what kind of results the employer is seeking from someone to fill that position, then honestly emphasize in your résumé your experience producing those types of results.
“Employers today want action and results,” said Nancy Eberhardt, a local leadership coach and executive consultant. “People will tell the duties they have had in prior jobs, but they do not talk about the results they have accomplished.
“People might say I did all the elements of a marketing campaign, but they don’t say they grew sales by 20 percent. There is a distinction.”