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Conflicting Stuff

Sometimes job search conflicts aren’t what they seem

Believe it or not, there are times when conflict is good. Unfortunately, conflict as part of a job search is not one of them.

But conflict among job seekers does exist. One page resume or two. Cover letters are obsolete; cover letters are more important than ever.

We could go on, but we won’t. What we will do is focus on one particular instance where there is apparent conflict… but not really.

Spend enough time as a job seeker and you’re almost certain to encounter the dreaded ATS – applicant tracking software. Upload your resume here and the machine does the rest. Typically the rest involves the machine doing its best to eliminate you from contention.

Some job search experts like to promote the idea of “keyword stuffing.” That’s the practice of determining which are the key words in a job description or posting, and lacing your resume with those words as often as possible. As the theory goes, the more times the ATS sees those keywords in your resume, the more likely you are to make the cut.

Other experts, however, contend that the jury is still out on the matter. That’s partly because some software embraces keywords and some penalize for them. The problem is that when you upload your resume, you don’t know what software you’re dealing with.

Either way, it’s best to have two versions of your resume. One that can be peppered with as many keywords as possible for the ATS “readers.” This may at least get your foot in the door.

The second resume is a more conventional version. After all, at some point in the process, a set of human eyes will review your resume and if you’ve keyword-stuffed it, that will be quite apparent and may likely be counted against you.

Conflict among resumes is likely to continue – for at least the foreseeable future. In the meantime, avoid conflict by playing both ends against the middle.


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