5 Signs Your Resume Might Need a Professional Review

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(Staff Sgt. Tomora Clark/U.S. Army photo)

For every job posting on any given website, a human resources department will have to sift through hundreds, potentially thousands, of resumes to fill that job. Most resumes only get a glance's worth of time in front of a human -- if it ever makes it that far.

Many companies and job sites use some kind of applicant tracking system (ATS), scanning software that looks for key elements of the job posting in resumes. If you haven't been getting much attention, it might be because you're missing those elements.

For qualified applicants, making it past the ATS and into human hands is the first goal. If you aren't getting any results, job websites like Military.com's parent company, Monster, offer free resume assessments to determine whether your resume has the right stuff.

Here are a few signs this service might be for you.

1. Your Resume Doesn't Quantify Your Work

Good resumes not only list job titles along with roles and responsibilities, but they also list the accomplishments achieved while you were in that position. Remember those Enlisted Performance Report (EPR)/Officer Performance Report (OPR) bullets you spent all that time gathering specific numbers for, so you could list their impact? That's the kind of numbers that should be included in a resume.

How many troops were under you? In the civilian world, those are called direct reports, and they give you management experience. Did you streamline a process? Show how much time and effort you saved. You want to quantify these things. If you aren't, it may be one reason you aren't getting results.

2. Lacking the Right Keywords

Hiring managers using a job site's ATS specify certain words to collect qualified resumes. This might be in any section of your resume, including education, employment history or the skills section.

Qualified candidates should use the job listing to tailor their resume for specific keywords and add those words to their resume. If some or all of the words aren't present, the ATS will ensure your resume never gets to a human.

3. Unclear or Misleading Titles

When we talk about translating your military experience for the civilian world, this is what we're talking about. Many military job titles have civilian equivalents, but a computerized system like an ATS isn't going to do the work for you.

For example, when applying for a job in television and video production, the applicant is much better off listing a translated job title or skill than listing its actual military name. "Video production technician" is more easily understood in the civilian world than "visual information production and documentation journeyman."

4. Improper Formatting

This doesn't necessarily mean your resume is poorly written or presented in a bad way. If your resume were going directly into the hands of a human, the human would probably understand the information after a second's look. But it's not going to a human; it's likely going to a computer.

It's important to use a resume that's easy to read, has a standard font and uses a clean layout with well-placed titles, dates and accomplishments. There was a time where resumes wanted to stand out from a crowd, but today, it needs to get past a very discerning firewall. It needs to be formatted properly to do that.

5. It Wasn't Reviewed

Anyone will tell you it's important to get another set of eyes on things that are as important as a resume. Having a friend or co-worker look over your resume will help you catch spelling errors, typos and other mistakes that can just happen after you've written a dozen (or more) of them.

Companies like Monster will offer free resume reviews to catch the errors that will get resumes discarded by an ATS and help make sure your resume gets into the hands of a real person. Veterans have a much better chance of getting hired once they get past the computer, so be sure to use this free service and catch all these potential mistakes.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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