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There are two main reasons why you should have a professional resume. First, a neat, attractive resume is the first impression you will give a hiring manager or recruiter. Secondly, there’s the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which your resume must pass to get an interview. Let’s look at these two reasons more closely:
1. First Impressions always count, whether in person or on paper. A resume is how you market yourself for every job that you apply for, so it’s essential to be attractive on paper. Unfortunately, many resumes that are poorly written and not appealing to read are put aside and may never be looked at again, even though the candidate may be qualified for the position. You always want to present yourself at your best by submitting a professional resume.
It helps if you also remember that most hiring managers and recruiters will only scan your resume for an average of 8 – 15 seconds. So, if your resume is not formatted correctly, chances are your resume will be put aside. A professional resume will have a consistent format, be grammatically correct, and list your critical skills, accomplishments, and abilities upfront where a hiring manager can easily find them. If someone has to search your resume to find out what your skills and achievements are, chances are they won’t take the time to do that, and your resume may not get a second look. Now that open positions are posted on websites worldwide, a company may get hundreds of resumes for one position – and that leads us to the second reason you need a professional resume.
2. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) was created to help hiring managers scan resumes for qualified candidates. It’s estimated that more than 70% of American companies now have an ATS system to find qualified candidates.
The ATS system works by scanning resumes into a machine similar to a copy machine and scanning the resume for keywords and phrases. The company will tell the system what keywords and phrases to look for, and if they’re not on your resume, you’ll be rejected. This system saves companies time and money in finding qualified candidates. However, the system is imperfect, and resume writers must create a resume that will pass these systems.
Some of the issues ATS systems have is they tend to jumble up resumes with fancy fonts, colors, tables, sidebars, graphics, and other formatting features. Once a resume is jumbled up, it gets rejected. The best resumes to pass these systems are simple yet attractive resumes.
The bottom line is that since you don’t know if a human will read your resume or if an ATS system will scan it, you will need a resume that works for both.