Not only do job seekers need to have quality resumes but they also need to know how to beat resume recruitment software to get noticed by hiring managers. Applicants who don’t use common search engine practices when creating a resume run into the risk of having a resume weeded out by the software before it ever reaches the hiring manager, even if the applicant is qualified. These tricks can help get a resume noticed and could lead to obtaining a great job.

1. Customize Your Resume

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is to use the same resume for every job application. Because online recruitment software searches for keywords related to the job posting, failure to use those keywords specifically in a resume could lead to only the software filter accessing the document. Read through the job posting and make note of specific words or phrases that describe the qualifications the company is looking for.

Also note common phrases used when describing the job duties. Adjusting a resume and cover letter to include those common phrases or keywords give the resume a better chance of being selected by the software application.

2. Avoid Complex Documents

Although fancy borders, backgrounds and shading look good on a printed resume, they often become distorted when uploaded. In addition, some application filtering software may have difficulty scanning documents with this type of information, which could lead the program to discard the resume.

Use a common font that is easy to read, such as Arial or Courier. Do not use a smaller font than 11 or force too much information in one page as it can also become distorted and difficult to read when the document is uploaded. (See the article I wrote here for more resume best practices)

3. Finding the Right Keywords

Finding the right keywords is not as difficult as you think. Review the job listing closely to get an understanding of what they are looking for.

Under the job description, note different responsibilities they are looking for and write down the action words in the description, such as analyze, design, organize, or develop. When you complete your resume, include those same words in the descriptions of the job duties at your previous jobs.

For example, if the company is looking for someone who can analyze data and organize reports, use the words analyzed and organized in one of the duties at a previous job. Be honest, however, and do not list things on your resume that you didn’t do.

4. Be Strategic When Using Keywords

Just stuffing keywords into a resume is not likely to get it noticed by recruitment software. It is also important to place keywords strategically in both a resume and cover letter. Keywords are noticed by software if they appear logically within the document, yet overloading a resume with keywords can cause the system to reject it as well. Include keywords in sections that discuss strengths and when discussing relevant accomplishments.

5. Consider Mailing a Hard Copy

One additional step that may get a resume noticed is to mail a hard copy of the document, along with a cover letter explaining that it is an additional copy following up on an online application. Review the job listing carefully, however, as some employers specifically request that mailed resumes not be sent, while others state that phone calls related to the position are not acceptable.