8 Resume Fixes: Help them, Help You, Beat the Robot

We’re scrappy at Scaleworks. The fund has a small team and we wear many hats. I didn’t blink when asked to provide support for the applicant tracking system (ATS) used by our portfolio companies.
8 Resume Fixes: Help them, Help You, Beat the Robot

We’re scrappy at Scaleworks. The fund has a small team and we wear many hats. I didn’t blink when asked to provide support for the applicant tracking system (ATS) used by our portfolio companies. We were on the verge of a hiring frenzy and I could not wait to experience large-scale hiring of diverse roles.

Cleaning up old postings and working with managers to create new ones revealed trends that persisted across companies, job level, and geography.

If job hunting and a new career is your goal during 2019, here are some habits to work on and things to leave behind in 2018.

  1.    Read the Job Description

It saves everyone time. This role requires relocation to San Antonio and acknowledgement that we have the superior breakfast taco. This role is remote in the Bay Area. This role may or may not have visa sponsorship. This role requires proficiency in Python, Ruby, and Parseltongue.

It breaks my heart to vet a great prospect, spend time conducting interviews -tempting them with the best Tex-Mex on the planet- and then have them share that they are unable to meet some criteria that was in the original job post.

  1.      The source of all suffering is attachment(s).

Eastern philosophy considers attachment to be the source of all suffering and ATS managers are inclined to agree. File attachments can behave strangely inside HR systems. Fonts can display peculiarly, spacing gets thrown off, and images will move arbitrarily. Sometimes the ATS is part of a Frankenstein’s monster of HR and employee management software; things can get wonky when moving from program to program. Make peace with the fact that your documents may have shifted during flight.

Protip: Convert your file to a PDF that uses web-safe fonts. Watch your margins, spacing, and sizing. Limit your use of images and be aware of how they are anchored in the document.

  1.      By any other name

Some of the hiring processes take place outside of the application platform (*gasp*). Sometimes we even print resumes (*double gasp*) to review in hard copy. If you’ve taken the time to write a cover letter, add a reference sheet (please don’t), or attach a portfolio (please do), then please include your name on each of the files. Otherwise, your supporting documents may get lost in the shuffle.

The American Name Society promotes onomastics: the study and use of proper names. The fact that we have a professional society and branch of study dedicated to naming conventions shows the importance of file names. Writing is a recursive process. But take a second and rename your resume. Our first impression of you shouldn’t be John_Resume_Final_Final_V3.docx.

  1.      Can the robot read it? Can the human read it? Does the dog care?

Y’all have some beautiful resumes. I know you, or someone on Fiverr, spent time pondering the color scheme and kerning. But please do not flatten the image or convert the text. There have been multiple wonderful candidates that required rescue from the HR robot because their attachments were blank and the system couldn’t score the document.

Similarly, I encountered several “sly” candidates who copied the job description into their resume or cover letter and hid the text. It might help you get past the robot, but it won’t get you past the human.

I’ll also complain about you to my dog. She’d rather be playing tug-o’-war or eating scooby snacks, not listening to my HR woes. Please, consider the dog if not the human.

Please, consider the dog if not the human.

  1.      Objective? Objection!

Generally, objective statements waste real estate. Why waste three lines explaining your goal when you could use those lines to share a major achievement or unique skill set? Once your objective statement goes beyond two sentences, you’ve started writing a cover letter and should attach it as a separate document.

  1.      Watch the resume length.

You’re extremely talented. You wouldn’t be qualified for this job if not for your illustrious and unique path. But I can promise you that when we have 100+ qualified people applying for the same job, we’re generally not reading past page two on the first round of vetting. If I want to see your extended work history I’ll ask for it, or better yet, I’ll search for you on LinkedIn.

Speaking of LinkedIn…

  1.      LinkedIn linked out

Extra points for Griffindor when people include a clickable link to their LinkedIn, Github, or online portfolio. Just be sure to have content populated on the site. Reconcile your LinkedIn with your resume. It is a huge red flag when dates, roles, and descriptions don’t match.

  1.      Swing for the fences

Aim high. Go for it! Lots of us value talent over tenure. Apply for that job and be confident in your skill set. Modesty will get you nowhere. We want awesome people who aspire to do great things. Show us that you are that person.


Did I mention the hiring frenzy? We’re always looking for SaaS talent and have roles open throughout the portfolio.

Thanks to drew olanoff.

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