Resumes That Get You Past the Screener


What’s a resume’s function? Plain and simple, to get you the phone interview. Just like you can’t open your front door with your car key, you can’t pass the initial screening without a resume that’s as organized and specific as it can be. Here’s how to create just that.

For more of our resume advice, click here.

18 Responses to “Resumes That Get You Past the Screener”

  1. The time will come when there won’t be any technical people in this country; or if any, they will be hard to come by. Then, companies will ask themselves why there are no technical people in the US or not too many? They won’t realize that they drive the interest of people to become professionals or not, or to sacrifice their life in the name of technology. Life is a process of giving and taking but companies have not learned that and probably never will.

  2. This advice that Cat gives is spot on. I just completed reviewing resumes from my private mailing list and the number one problem was not organizing your job skills as described here. Most readers of resumes do not know the job as well as you do and are looking to match (think of a check mark) your job skills with those in the resume. Making job skills organized as shown above allows more check marks — and the probability of a phone interview.

    Your competition spreads their job skills out all over the resume and the person, upon reading the resume will throw it out. Now imagine coming upon yours with your job skills all lined up in a vertical column, categorized, and mirroring the job description. Easy to find the skills and match them up.

    Who has the better chance at the phone interview? The one in the electronic trash bin or yours organized and matched up well with the job description?

    • Very true and the funny thing is that “once you’re in” you realize that most co-workers don’t even know how to write a good test procedure or technical paper. So, what is the function of the cover letter? Most cover letters are not genuine either as well as resumes. I bet that the author of the article does not even know how to write a good test procedure or technical paper. Question to her: How many different types of writings are there and how to go about doing it?

  3. Bunch of non-sense! The problem with Human Resources and Recruiters is that they are not technically knowledgeable on the subject. A good resume shows the “true’ experience at different companies the individual has had and by logic follows the job skills the individual has. Being myself a technical person, I know by reading a resume how competent the individual is and if the set of skills match an opening in question. The problem with HR personnel and many managers is that things need to be shoved down their brains…they are not able to discern either.

  4. Personally, I do not want to work for a company that is using resume’ screening programs. They have only proven that they area lazy, cut corners, and not interested in the individual experience of the applicants. If they use these programs, they also probably engage in volatile office politics, impersonal employeeemployer relations, etc. After 20 years in I.T. with the experience and talent I possess, I select where I work, they don’t select me.

    • Chris, I have some questions for you: I know for a fact, and I know you also know, that big corporations receive hundreds, if not thousands of resumes on a daily basis and reason why they rather go to recruiters; so, if the company wants to do their own hiring how are they going to select resumes? For sure HR will not have the capabilities to select from hundreds of resumes on a daily basis and do not have the savvy to do it either. So, what the company should do in order to select the best resumes based on technical skills and experience? We also know that computers do as they are told to do without bias, machines after all, so…does it make sense to program computers to select the best resumes base on a set of criteria? How many resumes would a computer select on a daily basis? They can be programmed also to select a certain number of resumes; however, if they do that some good candidates might get dumped and that is no good for a company as they could miss an excellent professional and then it is the company’s loss. On the other hand; computers can be programmed for several iterations; select resumes based on one criterion and then reselect resumes based on a second type of criteria and so on and so forth till they get only a few resumes being those the best of the bunch. Then those resumes can be review by HR personnel or sent directly to the hiring manager (I rather do that). Then, the hiring manager can email those selected professionals to schedule a telephone interview and finally a personal interview.

      I am from the old school of thinking and I believe the hiring process has been degenerated by letting do the job to very incompetent people and not only that, people which are from other countries and as such difficult to understand when talking by telephone; however, that is the way companies rather do business now. In the old days we had excellent head hunters, they were professionals in their own right, which dealt with the hiring managers on a first basis and knew the technical lingo also. That head hunter represented the job seeker and did everything he could to land a personal interview for the professional he represented and with no intervention from HR. I know that because I went through the process with excellent results.

      On one thing I do agree with you: Companies have become inefficient and lazy and give the job to recruiting companies which can care a less and hire people which have no clue of the technical aspect of the jobs at hand plus being handicapped with the English language.

  5. Fred Bosick

    I think the advice given is OK, but the C++ example given has a problem. I might think I’m a pretty smart guy, but I don’t toss around “expert” all that often. If this advice is taken literally, you cannot avoid exaggerating on your resume’. Everyone wants an expert, but an expert isn’t needed the vast majority of the time. And companies really aren’t paying, even though they ask for rockstars, gurus and ninjas. You can get a Red Hat Linux certificate but does anyone have a Rockstar?

    And listing soft skills as bullet points doesn’t make sense either. Unless you plop down a stack of personality inventories administered by certified professionals, how is anyone to know you really are a black belt, 3rd dan in “negotiation skills”?

    I don’t exaggerate, embellish, or lie on my resume’. I don’t claim expertise on any item in the text. I’m still learning and i like to think true IT people would say the same thing.

    • Sadly, Fred, the advice from the so-called resume experts has been, for many years now, to lie, embellish or exaggerate. They don’t do it explicitly, of course. They just act as though we’re all super heroes with immense talents and amazing results, but that we don’t know how to articulate it on our resumes.

  6. First, I agree with TestUser that the people getting hired are the ones with connections. Applying for a job through a website or online listing leads nowhere, regardless of how qualified you may be or how impressive your resume may look.

    That aside, however, I am not in IT, so I do not have technical skills that separate me from others; and many of the jobs I apply for request fairly basic skills that most people should have, ie: multi-tasking, attention to detail, good communication skills, etc. When most people have those things, what will make my resume stand out above the others so that I get the interview rather than they?

  7. I used to place contract programmers at clients years ago, and used a similar search mechanism for screening. It wasn’t that I was lazy, it was that I had already reviewed the resumes individually, and needed a way to quickly match skills to requirements. HR departments don’t have that luxury when they are inundated with hundreds of resumes for each position. It is an employer’s market, which means they can afford to pick and choose.

    That being said, the likelihood of getting an interview goes up substantially if you know someone who works at the company and can vouch for you.

  8. You know..I am not even going to listen to Cat’s video (WOT). Per, Cicuta, you write like a very intelligent person….I like that. But instead of perusing throught a thousand resume…just state….Principal Only. When I use to see an ad like that I knew the company was looking for a person with thorough knowledge. All these young people that think they know how to market drive me….Crazzzzy.

  9. Cat Miller, Waste of Time. Per, Cicuta, I like your style. Suggestion: Use Principal Only, that way one knows one is looking for a person with thorough knowledge of the job. This generation drives me Crazzzzy. Do they even know what is happening?

  10. I was always told to keep your resume simple and straight forward. To never exaggerate your skills or capabilities to avoid boring recruiters to death. I was told recently I need to be more do of the opposite, and list a lot more of all my past experiences and accomplishments. My questions is, How the heck will I fit a decade of IT accomplishments on a single resume sheet?

  11. Now how the heck am I supposed to fit a skills section into my resume while maintaining the 1-page rule?
    As it is, I have to limit my work history to the last two positions, unless I’m to only to give 1-2 sentences each…
    Without making it unattractive or unreadable, how do you cram all of these sections that every resume “should” have without making it unattractive or unreadable? Is the design layout no longer important now that OCR filters are the norm; what about when a real person finally gets it?
    It know that it is supposed to force concision, but you can only convey so much information on one page?
    I just graduated college (went back for my degree, so education section seems relevant) and have concurrently been working full time for the last 6 years. That’s a lot to talk about.

  12. shradha

    Only those who have 100’s of connections and are willing to work for the lowest salary, in spite of possessing the highest experience and willing to undergo slavery and get suppressed under office politics….
    these are the only people who get a job nowadays!
    Those job consultants/recruitment firm don’t a heck about recruiting….they don’t even know how to read/write a CV profile. The company hr are too lazy to do their work and go to such cheap underrated consultants who want maximum commission per candidate! Company squeezes employee for utmost work output and consultant squeezes for max commission….
    Nowadays 6% is also considered a salary hike! And to make things worse there is this artificial intelligence screening resumes.
    These resume experts don’t have any expertise or work to do or else why would they be posting such useless articles as to how a resume should be??? For god sake the art of resume writing has been there since 1800 or prior and they still say we don’t know how to write one??? Well you people charge us and write our resume and still it doesn’t make a difference!!! (its your poetry in our resume, not ours and still we are unemployed!)
    So how much more will you tell us to optimize/scrutinize/edit/crapify our resume???
    All that one page resume is nonsense!
    If you have the correct skills and valid experience, you can go upto 3 pages max…..which is for a mid-career level.
    If you are beyond mid-career level 2 page max is sufficient.
    A newbie would need 2 pages max as there are not too many experience details to portray.
    That is how a resume length varies.
    Even if you get 1000’s of resume in the inbox per day…..just as you say a recruiter reads only for 20-30 secs maximum…..then in this way crap resumes will be eliminated quickly and one can easily sort out good ones. We have to work out in an inverted tree structure to filter useless/poorly written/irrelevant resume to get a few or about 100 good candidates and then start the search for the possibly best candidate. Artificial Intelligence can be used with slightly relaxed criteria to filter out junk resume but the 2nd stage of sorting should be done by human.