In college, a friend and I, used to strive to include 4 words in every paper we wrote. Those words?
The reason why these words in particular were chosen has faded away into the mists of time, but we had the belief (perhaps mistaken) that if we could incorporate each of these words appropriately, the natural result had to be a grade of "A." Given we were both social science majors, working "moist" into a paper on the Federalist Papers or an analysis of "Winesburg, OH" was easier said then done.
Companies inundated with resumes have increasingly turned to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to deal with the sheer volume. However, as an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal indicates, not all is wine and roses with ATS:
It may miss the most-qualified applicant if that person doesn't game the system by larding his or her résumé with keywords from the job description, according to Mark Mehler, co-founder of consulting firm Career Xroads, which advises companies on staffing.
Even with strong software, problems still arise:
One small error, such as listing the name of a former employer after the years worked there, instead of before, can ruin a great candidate's chances.
So, how does one improve the likelihood of getting noticed by an applicant tracking system? One of the tips offered is:
Forget about being creative. Instead, mimic the keywords in the job description as closely as possible. If you're applying to be a sales manager, make sure your résumé includes the words "sales" and "manage" (assuming you've done both!).
In a sense, my friend and I were hoping our professors were like applicant tracking systems. We hit the right keywords, and, boom, the interview (or the "A") was ours. However, is creativity lost in the process? The hope that an HR manager might take notice when I throw out "boon" or "bifurcate" and take a second look is diminished if I ikss the right note.