In the internet age, résumé writing is still playing catch up. What had worked a decade ago is still being applied today. The best part is people expect it to continue working.

The way résumés are being processed nowadays is significantly different.

Ten years ago, there was no LinkedIn, and online job portals had just started out and we still used fax machines!

Fast forward to today, we are looking at résumé parsing, data analytics, personal branding, video résumé, gamified recruitment process, and so on. You get the picture.

So why are you still writing your résumé based on decade-old advice?

Apply these five tactics to get an overnight résumé makeover and start shining apart from the crowd:


1. Identify your “hook”

I would also call this your associative keywords. These would be the keywords that (when searched) will rank you high on the list.

The important bit here is the keywords should be identified from the searcher’s (the recruiter) point of view — the same keywords that recruiters would use when they are mining their database.

To begin, look out for the keyword that firstly identifies the job nature (e.g. Accountant) and also if there might be any interchangeable terms (e.g. Finance).

Now Accountant is a very broad term.

You would want to differentiate yourself with a niche.

However, this niche should also appear commonly in the job you are looking for — for instance, Cost Accountant for manufacturing industry.


2. Compare with what you are looking for

This is one of my favourite hacks.

Firstly, identify 3 to 5 ideal jobs from online portals and copy their entire content. Head over to and create the word cloud for each of them. Now do one more cloud with your existing résumé. Compare and contrast.

If you are reading this, chances are your own word cloud would deviate significantly from the rest of the word clouds.

Here is where you identify 5 – 8 common keywords from them and prepare to rewrite your résumé with them in mind.


3. Make sure your résumé is applicant tracking system friendly

Applicant tracking systems are used by organisations to manage the flood of applications they receive.

They will read your résumé and then rank and score your applications vs. the job descriptions.

Only those applicants who receive high scores will get a call for an interview.

Always use a standard Word document, and save in .doc format.

Many ATS still cannot process .docx, PDF, RTF, and JPG formats.

And remember to use simple formatting — avoid putting important information into headers, footers, borders, tables, etc.

As much as it is a computer system, it is one that prefers simplicity.


4. Improve résumé parsing accuracy

Many companies also realise the lengthy online application forms is killing off interest. To compensate, they look to résumé parser to scan your résumé and automatically fill in the forms for you.

The tech is pretty old but accuracy improvement has only been marginal.

Especially when it comes to names as the system was designed for the western markets.

Still, there are ways to make sure things don’t get misinterpreted.

Importantly, use clear and simple categorisation when it comes to different sections so the parser would know what is what — e.g. Personal Information, Executive Summary, Work Experience, Education, Skills. And under Work Experience, always list instead.

Grammar can also easily make the parser confused.

For instance, some write Microsoft PowerPoint and others Microsoft PPT.

To be safe, echo how it is written in the job description.

And parser only read the text, not graphics.

Any extraneous formatting or graphical elements on the résumé only gets in the way.


5. Sequence that appeals to recruiters

There was a research by TheLadders that recruiters spend an average of six seconds on your résumé before deciding if they should read more or move on.

In the short time that they spend on your résumé, recruiters look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.

Your résumé should be done in the same sequence to make it easier for the recruiters’ tired eyes to read without compromise.


Article contributed by CAREERHERO.ASIA, an online Résumé vs JD scanning tool.


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