Making your resume ATS (applicant tracking system) – friendly

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BY MATT TARPEY (From the Courier-Post – Sunday, July 16, 2017)


When looking for candidates to potentially fill an open position, the majority of employers use something called an applicant tracking system (ATS) to find, collect, organize and screen all of the applications they receive. This means your resume will likely need to pass through an ATS before ever reaching human eyes.

Here are a few essential tips to make sure your resume is ATS-friendly.

Simplify contact information 

Many job seekers are so focused on the professional information included in their resumes that they overlook even more basic information – their contact info. When optimizing your resume for an ATS, make sure that the system will have no problem identifying your name, email address and phone number.

“Do not put your point of contact information in the headers – some…ATS software doesn’t know where to put this information when they convert the resume from the Word doc. (or PDF) into a ’text’ parsing into their database,” says Dawn Boyer, CEO of Boyer Consulting. “Many ATSs will simply dump the headerand footer because the system doesn’t know where to put header info. It also takes up way too much white space and page space on pages two and three (or four).”

Use keywords

ATSs are continually growing in sophistication, but keyword identification will always be an essential component.

Employers don’t have time to carefully read every single resume they receive, and keywords help them quickly identify resumes that deserve a closer look.

“Recruiters and hiring managers are busy and many rely on applicant tracking systems or databases to search through resumes based on Boolean searching,” says Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager at recruiting firm WinterWyman.

“You might think it’s obvious that as a salesperson you cold called companies, closed deals, followed up and so forth. However, if those tasks aren’t listed on your resume, companies might assume you haven’t done them. Moreover, you won’t come up in recruiters’ keyword searches.”

Wendi M. Weiner, an attorney, certified executive resume writer and career coach, suggests using the employer’s description of the open position to identify keywords you should be using.

“Look to the job posting and highlight the keywords that stand out and include those keywords in your resume,” says Weiner. “At the same time, avoid keyword stuffing, which means just throwing in as many keywords as possible, including ones that maynot match your skill set.”

Use simple formatting

While you might think that a unique or unusual resume layout will help it stand out from the pack, it may actually make your resume more difficult for an ATS to make sense of, and hurt your chances of getting hired.

“Applicant tracking systems cannot decipher graphs,

charts, columns or even text boxes. Therefore, make sure your resume does not contain those items,” says Weiner.

Use a standard font

Even the font you choose can impact the ATS’s ability to read your resume, so stick with a very basic, standard font.

“Use one font throughout the resume – preferably a font that easily converts to text in the parsing process,” says Boyer. “I recommend Arial or Times New Roman, but as a recruiter, my preference is Arial on the original resume.”

“Plainer [font] eliminates issues with the parsing engine and makes it easier for the recruiter to read the important parts without the visual interference,” adds Boyer.

Complete the application 

Some online application processes require you to manually enter some information that may also appear on your resume. While this may seem unnecessary or redundant, do not skip over these steps.

“When filling out online applications, make sure to complete all portions of online submission forms,” says Valerie Streif, senior advisor at The Mentat. “Answer all the filtering questions thoroughly and don’t leave anything blank. The ATS could automatically eliminate resumes that leave portions of the forms blank, guaranteeing that your resume won’t be seen by any live human.”

Matt Tarpey is a writer for the Advice & Resources section on He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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Recovering from a bad interview

[To comment:]’s Sarah Sipek writes in detail about interview follow-ups.  Look for the entire article online or visit the Courier-Post Sunday, July 9 edition, page 16 C. In addition, contains many “handouts” on resumes and interview techniques.

Here are Sipek’s key points:

  • Send a thank-you note
  • Ask for a second chance
  • Don’t grovel
  • Reflect
  • Conduct mock interviews (practice practice practice

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Personal Finance — Some tips to help

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(From USA Today on Sunday, June 25, 2017)

From Robert Powell who suggests, “If you have to go it alone, use these tips to help you get started.” (See USA Today for full article.)

  • Knowledge is power
  • Build a budget
  • Set goals
  • Save as much as you can, as early as you can
  • Maximize the benefits you already have
  • Work with an adviser
  • (Powell is editor of Retirement Weekly and contributes regularly to USA Today.)

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6 Tips to help you get promoted

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Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

  • Word count for this issue: 589
  • Approximate time to read: 2.4 minutes @ 250 words per minute  16 Mistakes Employees Make When Trying To Get A Promotion.          
  • Executive Summary:  Transitioning into a management position is never a simple process; however, the right approach will make a move more likely.  Educate yourself on what makes an effective leader by studying the habits of leaders you respect or enrolling in management training.  Fuse theoretical knowledge with applied skills by taking the initiative to demonstrate that you have the capacity to adequately fill a management position. 
  • 6.  Ask The Right Questions – Thinking like a manager means asking questions like a manager.  Focus on the aspects related to improving processes.  Asking questions designed to improve cost management, accomplishing tasks more efficiently, and meeting clients’ needs more effectively will demonstrate that you are serious about taking initiative.  To truly reinforce to others your desire to be a leader, have solutions to your proposed questions in mind.
  • 5.  Take The Initiative – The very best managers are the ones that are proactive.  These people don’t wait for things to come to them; instead, they take charge.  Come time for your quarterly or yearly review, ask your supervisor what steps you need to take to obtain a position in management.  Be sure to keep an eye on job postings at your company and recently vacant positions so that you may be in a position to seize upcoming opportunities.
  • 4.  Communicate Effectively – The cornerstone of being an effective professional at any level is the ability to communicate effectively. Understanding how others will interpret and react to issues that come up is a fundamental component that strong managers should always be aware of.  You must be able to communicate, respect, encourage and establish rapport with others to demonstrate that you have the capacity for leadership.
  • 3.  Do Your Job And Do It Well – If you are looking for a promotion at your current place of employment, you will want to excel in your current position. This, however, does not mean that you need to be the best at what you do (in fact, often, top performers are not always the best leaders).  Instead, focus on the leadership qualities of your job and ensure that you are a premier team player.
  • 2.  Enroll In Leadership Training Programs – Either as a supplement to or in conjunction with observing the habits of effective leaders, consider taking a course in leadership training.  A quick look through a search engine will turn up a wealth of results.  Be sure to perform your due diligence and ensure that the training you look into is highly rated.   
  • 1.  Study The Habits Of Quality Leaders – Truly, the best method for gaining an understanding of what people in management positions do is to observe people in those positions.  Study the techniques and habits of the managers whom you find effective.  Focus on how they interact with employees and how they encourage professional growth.
  • 6 Tips For Landing Your Next Promotion:
  • Click Here To Read Forbes’ Article

  • A promotion to management can signal a major milestone in any career.  While this is no simple task, there are a number of steps you can take to put yourself in a position to achieve this goal.  We have gathered six time-tested tips that can help you achieve the success you desire.


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Positive trend for small businesses

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(From USA Today and 2017 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor survey of 700 USA small-business owners. Credit Jae Yang and Paul Trap, USA Today.)

Forty-five (45) percent of small -business owners are worried about their ability to save for retirement , down from 53 percent last year.

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Looking for a job? Stay positive and productive

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From’s Lily Martis comes this:

Whether you left a job because you hated it or you left because you were let go, it is tough to be in between jobs.

These important productive steps should help you return to the workplace:

  • Stick to a schedule
  • Tap professional resources
  • Set specific goals
  • Develop new skills

Read Martis’ entire column in the May 21, 2017 edition of the Courier-Post or on

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‘Soft Skills’ can set YOU apart

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As Sarah Sipek of “CareerBuilder” writes in the Courier-Post, technical or hard skills are essential qualifications for a job, but “soft skills” focus on how you interact with others. For details visit Here are the headings:

  • Communication
  • Ability to handle criticism
  • Attention to detail
  • Positive attitude
  • Time management

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Stunt Food — The Unicorn Frappuccino is cool … for now

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From USA Today comes this fascinating definition: (Check out the full story:

By Zlati Meyer , USA TODAY Published 12:15 p.m. ET April 21, 2017 | Updated 2:10 p.m. ET April 21, 2017

It’s what people in the business call stunt food: an unusual dish or drink — based on taste, size or ingredients — created for a limited time to grab attention.Stunt food has been around for years. Among the big splashes were:

  • Starbuck’s Unicorn Frappuccino
  • KFC’s Double Down: A sandwich with two chicken fillets instead of a bun
  • Burger King’s Whopperito: Hamburger meat and cheese wrapped in a tortilla
  • Pizza Hut’s hot dog bites pizza
  • Taco Bell’s Naked Breakfast Taco: Meat, potatoes and cheese in a fried egg-as-taco shell. Debuts this spring
  • Jack in the Box’s bacon milkshake

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Turn social situations into networking

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From comes this advice thanks to Deanna Hartley (Courier-Post Feb. 12, 2017)

Start with these tips to turn any social situation into a networking opportinuty:

  • Proactively seek out opportunities
  • Look for opportunities while traveling
  • Mingle at conferences
  • Find ways to add value to others
  • When you meet a stranger, strive to engage in authentic conversations

Here are my two adds:

  • Craft and practice delivering an effective “Elevator Speech” [See The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook for (all) Strategic Communicators Chapter 13]
  • Have your business cards closely at hand — with a QR code on it

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