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RESUME SCREENING: Get Your Resume Seen by Those Who Matter

Written by Judith Hart, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Mississauga Meadowvale

Does it feel like your resume is getting dropped into a giant black hole? Are you not getting any responses from employers?

If you answered YES, the following tips are for you!

What is a Resume: pure Chronology or Sales Material?

Your resume is a highlight of your previous achievements, skills, abilities and personal traits that an employer needs to understand and become attracted to. It is not just a list of your work history (where and when you were in each position).

It is a marketing tool to position you differently than other candidates written in a succinct, professional manner that is most relevant to the job you are applying to. If written well, it can open a door to a great conversation in person with a potential employer. (ie. a Job Interview!)

In the past, we used to present information about our previous work experiences and that was enough. In the 21st century, where the supply of great candidates is abundant, competition is high and therefore we need to market ourselves in order to stand out as best candidates for the employer.

The employer expects to be impressed and ‘sold’ in the 21st century. The key is highlighting your achievements and results to stand out and capture the attention of the reader within the first 20 seconds. Companies have literally hundreds of candidates applying for any given job, which simply means one needs to show the closest fit to the requirements of the job.

A good resume that gets attention is a close fit to the job description (in the job posting!) featuring hard, soft and transferable skills combined with achievements or concrete results.

Why do companies use robots FIRST to review resumes? What is ATS?
The robots are here to simplify and speed up the complicated process of employee selection thus saving money for the employer/company. Therefore applicants need to master the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Chances are high that resumes will first be seen and captured by a ‘pre-programmed scanner’. Here are some rules to win the game in ATS land:

  1. Weave in at least 10-15 words/phrases of key importance from the job posting that are unique to the job (i.e. IT jobs: cloud computing, data migration, internet security etc.)
  2. Only submit one version. (either .doc, .docx, .pdf — but not both!)
  3. Create plain text resumes, without fancy graphics, tables, italics or colours.
  4. Use ‘sans serif’ fonts. (i.e. Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial)
  5. Use simple terms for section heads. (i.e. Work Experience, Education, Career Summary)
  6. Use Chronological Resume if possible: some ATSs don’t recognize the Functional style.


For more information, job search assistance, workshops, resources, hiring events, and much more, visit

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