If you don’t know already, the way resumes are screened has changed. As a matter-of-fact, almost all publicly-traded companies now use one version or another of a scanning program as their first line of defense to cull resumes that don’t include information the software is programed to check. Many of the resumes cut didn’t make it because of a simple error or oversight by the submitter. But by knowing what it looks for, your chances of making the first cut increases. Here are 7 tips that can help make sure your resume doesn’t end up in the virtual trash can.

1. Include required information

Your resume could be trashed for something as simple as missing your address or contact information. In these cases, the resume is coded as incomplete and skipped over. Also, refrain from putting any required information in the header, as many of the scanning programs can’t read header information.

2. Make it easy to read

Some people try to impress the reader by using a fancy font, but if the program has not been programmed to read that font type, it will see it as a mumble-jumble of characters and skip over it. The same with format: Make it easy to read by using bullets and indents in either a chronological or functional format. For military members having been in the same basic job for a long time, the functional format, or skills-based as it is sometimes called, usually works better.

3. Include required keywords

Almost every job posting contains keywords specific to that job that the scanning software is programmed to find. When it does, it moves those resumes to a short-list (provided everything else is ok) which will then be read by a human pair of eyes. If it doesn’t find the specific keywords, it skips over the resume.

To find the keywords it is programmed to find, read over the job posting carefully. The keywords are words that are used several times throughout the posting. If familiar with the industry, you will already know the “lingo” and what keywords are important.

4. Tailor your resume

People still try to take the lazy way out and make a generic resume instead of tailoring each one to a specific job. There is no way a generic resume can contain the keywords specific to each job posting. Don’t do it! There is no easy way out; put the time in and do it right.

5. Don’t try to game the system

Some people try to game the system by keyword stuffing their resume using fonts that are the same color as the background. Older scanning software would recognize these keywords, however, the newer software will not factor these in and may kick out your resume for trying to cheat the system.

6. Simplify

If your degree or previous job title was unique and not programmed into the scanner, it won’t pick up that information even if you happen to be the best person for the job. Make sure everything in your resume is in simple terms and language that the scanner can read. This includes civilianizing military lingo, skills, acronyms and abbreviations.

7. Proof your resume

Sometimes a simple mistake or oversight will take you out of the running. Often, we are so close to the situation that we don’t see the error. Have a friend, co-worker or your spouse read over your resume (out loud) before submitting to see if everything in it makes sense to them as a civilian.

When writing a resume, think about who will be reading it. First use these 7 tips to get it past the scanning software. Then it will go to a human resource specialist to review and finally to a hiring manager for interviews and ultimately who will get the job. The information in your resume has to make sense to all three entities if you are to get to the next step – interviewing and hopefully a job offer at the end.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.