Can You Beat the Resume Screening Robot?

Last week I discussed the reason your resume seemingly gets lost in cyberspace once you submit it online. The answer? Robots. Well, sort of. Larger hospitals receiving hundreds or even thousands of applicants for a single position use automated screening software to sift through NP resumes in an effort to decrease costs and keep up with a hefty HR workload. If you aren’t classified as a qualified applicant by these ‘bots, your resume is kicked out of the system leaving even sometimes qualified nurse practitioner applicants mystified not to mention frustrated.

So, how can you get your resume past screening software and into the hands of a real human? Here are a few tips.

1. Avoid keyword vomit

Carefully placed keywords are essential in slipping your resume past the ‘bots. But, avoid keyword vomit. Sprinkle a few keywords from the job posting to which you are applying throughout your resume. But, don’t pack them too tightly or the automated program will sound a ‘B.S.!’ alarm.

One of the best ways to get plenty of relevant keywords into your resume is to use a few bullet points to describe each of your past nursing and nurse practitioner positions. Include relevant skills and responsibilities. Check the company website as well as the job posting for keyword guidance. Note that automated systems typically interpret bullet points more favorably than information in paragraph format.

2. Mix it up

As you describe your skills, certifications and experience, use both spelled out words and abbreviations. You never know which format ‘bots are looking for. Automated systems may be searing for the abbrev. ‘AGNP’ or the fully typed adult-gerontology nurse practitioner title. If your resume contains both forms, you’re in the clear.

3. Organize information into relevant categories

Automated systems can only interpret so much. So, rather than wording your resume as if it’s vying for a spot on the New York Times’ Bestseller list, keep your language simple, direct and organized. Call your work experience ‘Work Experience’ rather than ‘Career Achievements’.

Resume robots typically sort applicant data into four categories-education, contact information, skills, and work experience.  Avoid putting dates before text so the system can easily identify skills and prior positions you’ve held. Make these items easy for the automated system to identify and categorize. Be sure to include your address, phone number and email in the header otherwise the system may kick your resume to the curb. 

4. Omit the extra’s 

However handsome your mug, don’t include a self portrait, colors, tables or other graphics on your resume. These are easily misread by resume tracking systems not to mention can easily detract from the professional appearance of the document once it reaches human hands. Use standard fonts like Ariel or Times New Roman. Avoid scripted fonts as these may bot be read by automated systems. Go wild with your resume in your second career as a graphic designer, but for nurse practitioner purposes, boring is best. You can show of your stellar looks in the interview.

5. Proofread…again

Misspellings on a resume do spell something…doom! Robots can’t interpret spelling errors and will kick your resume out of the system. As a ThriveAP Career Advisor, I have been shocked at the number of resumes that land in my inbox with spelling mistakes. Formatting must be consistent throughout the document. Check punctuation. Spell check and proofread your resume over and over again. Then, have a friend or family member do the same. Once you are assured that each and every word on your resume is correctly spelled, remove any remaining pesky red squiggles for a polished look.

Submitting a resume online into an automated system is never the ideal way to apply for a nurse practitioner position. But, sometimes you don’t have any other recourse. Sprucing up your resume for these purposes never hurts and will serve to get your CV in top shape for those positions to which you apply in person as well.

If you’ve grown frustrated with the nurse practitioner job search process, let a ThriveAP Career Advisor know! ThriveAP Career Advisors have personal connections with recruiters and employers across the country-the best way to beat the ‘bots!


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