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When writing your resume, you’re focused on highlighting your education, skills, and accomplishments. But how much are you paying attention to keywords? (more…)
There are a range of decisions to make when it comes to your resume, from the font to use to the point size and also whether to add a splash of color. This is an important part of the message you’re sending to a hiring manager. You want to stand out, yet also be professional. (more…)
Learning new skills is critical to advancing one’s career.
According to one study, 74% of hiring decision-makers agree that a skills gap persists in the current U.S. labor and hiring economy.
Luckily, there are a number of online learning resources that are designed to teach you the latest skills. And while most programs don’t deliver a degree, most do offer a completion certificate. Perhaps more importantly, the knowledge you gain can make you more attractive to employers, while also helping you perform more effectively on the job.
To help you sift through the thousands of options out there, we’ve rounded up 25 of the best online learning platforms and resources — all broken down by different skill types. Keep reading to find the best resources for you!
1. LinkedIn Learning
Overview: Formally known as Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning is an education platform that helps you learn business, creative, and technology skills.
The platform is available for a monthly fee and has a content library with over 16,000 video classes in seven languages. Online classes are taught by industry experts with real-world experience. Here are just a few example classes:
- Leading without Formal Authority
- Writing Emails People Want to Read
- Content Marketing for Social Media
You can also prepare for various certifications like Adobe and Salesforce through LinkedIn Learning programs.
Depending on the information on your LinkedIn profile, you’ll receive personalized course recommendations. See if the platform is right for you by signing up for a one-month free trial.
Best for: Business Professionals & Companies
Pricing: Monthly: $29.99, Annually: $239.88 (plus tax)
Overview: Coursera was founded in 2012 by Stanford University computer science professors. It’s a unique online education platform, with classes provided through top universities such as Duke, Penn, Stanford, Princeton, and Northwestern, among others.
The platform offers both free courses and paid degree courses. These courses include learning elements like on-demand videos, homework assignments, and discussion forums.
You can receive a Course Certificate, Professional Certificate, MasterTrack® Certificate, or diploma with your network. Here are a few course examples:
- Excel Fundamentals for Data Analysis
- Google Ads for Beginners
- Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills
According to a Coursera survey, 87% of people learning for professional development report career benefits like getting a promotion, a raise, or starting a new career.
Best for: Beginner to Advanced
Overview: If you’ve ever researched online education platforms, you’ve likely seen Udemy. This popular marketplace provides a massive amount of content – 155,000 courses, in fact – to more than 35 million students.
From marketing and development to design and IT, Udemy is an excellent way to learn a variety of skills on your schedule as courses are self-paced. Check out these course options:
- The Complete 2021 Web Development Bootcamp
- The Business Intelligence Analyst Course 2021
- Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (+ Excel Application)
The platform has over 57,000 instructors who are experts in their fields. Search for classes that you’re interested in and check course reviews to find the right option for you.
Best for: Professionals & Students
Pricing: Depends on the course
Overview: Udacity is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)-providing platform with online courses that are geared toward technology learning such as data science, artificial intelligence, and digital marketing.
Udacity is known for content quality and partners with leading technology companies to determine the most important skills they want in their workforce.
Class lengths vary by course, but learning programs are flexible and can be tailored to fit your busy schedule. Real-world projects are also part of the courses and you’ll receive timely feedback from industry experts.
A unique feature about Udacity? The platform offers free courses, but also something they call Udacity Nanodegrees where you pay a monthly fee to study a particular subject for around 6-12 months and receive a degree.
Best for: Professionals and Students
Pricing: 200 free courses. Nanodegree courses cost $200 per month.
Overview: edX has over 3,000 online courses, 15,000 instructors, and 35 million users. Their goal? To make higher education opportunities available to more people.
Courses are offered from more than 160 top universities like Harvard and Berkeley. Here are just a few of the course options:
- Analyzing Data with Excel (IBM)
- Financial Accounting (MITx)
- Machine Learning Fundamentals (UCSanDiegoX)
You can also complete programs and degrees on the platform including a MicroBachelors Program and online Master’s degree.
Best for: Students
Pricing: Free to $300+
Overview: Alison is a learning marketplace with an assortment of free online courses from the world’s leading experts. Topics range from marketing and finance to technology and health sciences.
You can choose a certificate, diploma, and learning path courses.
You can also search for courses based on specific jobs. For example, maybe you want a career as a Marketing Manager. Alison has over 100 courses related to this position and shows the top three skills you need to succeed.
A few of the most popular courses include
- Food Safety and Hygiene in the Catering Industry
- Quality Management Systems (SMS)
- Diploma in Customer Service
Courses can take one hour to seven months to complete. While courses and proof of course completion are free, you do have to purchase certifications and official diplomas.
Best for: Professionals.
Pricing: Under $10 – $2,500
Overview: Want to learn how to create a vibrant Instagram community for your company? Or how to give honest feedback at work? Skillshare offers classes within four categories: Creative, Business, Technology, and Lifestyle.
Here are a few examples of classes under each category:
- Creative: The Beginner’s Guide to After Effects
- Business: Organic Instagram Growth: Create Shareable Content
- Technology: The Complete JIRA Agile Project Management Course
- Lifestyle: American Sign Language Level 1
The platform has over 30,000 premium classes and 2,000 free classes. The premium membership includes benefits like offline access, no ads, scholarships, and potential discounts.
You can also sign up for Skillshare’s 7-day free trial to test the platform.
Best for: Professionals & Students
Pricing: Premium Monthly – $15, Premium Annual – $99
Overview: HarvardExtension is the online extension school of Harvard University. Offering over 900 open-enrollment courses, the school allows you to study part-time in the evening and online courses (70% of courses are online).
Sign up for various programs including graduate certificates, graduate degrees, premed studies, and more. Sample courses include
- Introduction to Programming with Python
- Advanced Public Speaking and Professional Presenting
- The Art of the Pitch
According to the website, HarvardExtension is “A division of Harvard University dedicated to bringing rigorous programs and innovative online teaching capabilities to distance learners, working professionals, high school students, and those seeking higher learning in retirement.”
Best for: Students & Professionals
Pricing: Courses are free to take, but HarvardExtension charges tuition to receive a degree or certificate.
Overview: Similar to HarvardExtension, StanfordOnline is a digital extension of Stanford University. Courses are taught in real-time and there are different options available each semester.
Browse courses based on what you want to learn. Here are a few potential classes:
- Accounting for Managers and Entrepreneurs
- Programming Methodology
- Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
StanfordOnline also offers free educational online webinars to help you hone different skills such as “Lead from Home…Like a Boss.”
Best for: Students
Pricing: Audit classes for free or pay tuition to receive credit.
Overview: Ever wanted to learn skills from a celebrity? MasterClass makes that possible. The streaming platform offers video lessons taught by celebrity greats like Steve Martin, Gordon Ramsey, and Natalie Portman.
Select from over 100 classes across nine categories. Categories range from business, writing, music, photography, and more! You can also access video lessons anytime, anywhere on various devices.
Each class normally includes 20 video lessons which are 10 minutes long and a workbook. Sign up for a monthly MasterClass membership to access any class you like.
Best for: Beginner to Advanced
Pricing: $15 per month, billed annually.
Overview: Learn to code for FREE with CodeAcademy. This online interactive platform offers free coding classes for 12 different programming languages including
To get started, select what programming you want to learn. Start writing real-life code immediately and get instant feedback. Apply your learning to real-world projects and check what you’ve learned with tailor-made quizzes.
CodeAcademy has taught over 50 million people. The technical skills learned are designed to help you secure a job in technology (hint: coding skills are in high demand!).
Best for: Anyone interested in a technical career
Pricing: Free (although a Pro Plan offers additional support and resources)
Overview: If you want to learn programming, design, and more, Treehouse offers expert-led video courses on the topics.
Explore regular courses and Courses Plus to access the Treehouse catalog library, interactive quizzes, and coding challenges. Treehouse provides 300+ courses, over 250 workshops, and 23 topics.
The company also provides an online coding boot camp where you can receive a Techdegree and launch your dream career in tech. Treehouse graduates work at big-name companies like Mailchimp, Nike, and Airbnb.
Best for: Beginners, intermediate, and advanced learners
Pricing: Free 7-day trial, then $25 per month (Techdegree is $199 per month)
13. General Assembly
Overview: Since 2011, General Assembly has offered training in tech, data, design, business, and more. Learn career skills through award-winning curriculum and expert instructors, on-campus and online.
Choose to be a full-time or part-time student. The full-time program is designed to help you start a new career in 12 weeks. Part-time programs allow you to work full-time while learning new skills.
- Data Science
- Python Programming
- Front-End Web Development
- Data Analytics
When you sign up for a course, you get access to a dedicated career coach, job-search prep, real-world learning, and partner and networking opportunities.
Best for: Professionals
Pricing: Courses range from $1,250 for online on-demand courses to $14,950 for full-time on-campus courses.
Overview: If you’re looking for on-demand tech courses that you can stream or download, MiJingo is an excellent option.
The platform offers video courses for three main tracks: Development, Design, and Content Management Systems. Examples of specific courses include
- OS X Shell Tricks
- Python for PHP Developers
- CMS Learning System
MiJingo also provides in-person team training such as two-day Craft CMS classes and a one-day Git Fundamentals & Workflows class.
Best for: Beginner to Advanced
Pricing: No monthly fee, but you do need to purchase some of the courses.
Courses are taught by industry experts and are also designed to match different skill levels (from Beginner to Advanced).
In addition to courses, Pluralsight offers skill assessments, labs, certification prep, and more. Pluralsight isn’t free, but you can sign up for a free trial to see how you like it.
Best for: Software developers, IT administrators, and creative professionals
Pricing: Standard Plan – $29 per month, Premium Plan – $49 per month
Overview: Interested in learning UX or UI design skills? CareerFoundry is an online boot camp that allows you to learn through several months of videos and projects. Programs include:
- UX Design
- UI Design
- Web Development
- Data Analytics
- Voice User Interface Design
Each program is designed to help you kickstart your career-change journey. Whether you want to be a developer, designer, or analyst, CareerFoundry helps you get there and provides a six-month job guarantee.
Programs are 100% online and asynchronous. You’ll also have access to a career specialist, mentor, student advisor, and tutor. The curriculum is developed by industry experts and you’ll create real-life projects that you can use for your portfolio.
Best for: Beginner to Advanced
Overview: Take creative classes to hone your skills from the best on-demand instructors with CreativeLive. CreativeLive has a huge library of 1900+ classes on-demand all year.
Learn about Art & Design, Music & Audio, Photo & Video, and more. Some classes include:
- Shooting and Editing for Mobile Photography
- Color Fundamentals
- Advanced Typography: Fine Tuning and Finessing
Daymond John, Tim Ferris, and Mel Robbins are just a few of CreativeLive’s instructors.
Another cool aspect of the platform is that on-air classes are available for free. Just RSVP for on-air events and learn different skills in real-time.
Best for: Beginner to Advanced
Pricing: Free to $200 for courses. Or you can purchase the Creator Pass for $39 per month to access the entire library of courses.
18. Canva Design School
Overview: Canva has made it possible to design beautiful graphics without Photoshop or other graphic design tools. Canva Design School helps you learn how to optimize Canva through courses, tutorials, and events.
Check out some of the courses:
- Graphic Design Basics
- Branding your business
- Social media mastery
- Presentations to impress from the experts
The best part? All courses are free. However, a Pro Canva subscription is required to truly make the most of the platform (and access more elements), but the free plan is still perfect for basic graphic design needs.
Best for: Beginners
19. Instructional Solutions
Overview: Strong business writing is a skill that requires practice, no matter your occupation. Instructional Solutions offers various writing courses to help you learn how to write professional emails, reports, proposals, and more.
A few of the courses include:
- Effective Business Writing
- Sales Writing
- Technical Report Writing
- Customer Service Writing
- Email Writing for Business
Write down your writing goals and challenges when you start the course. You then learn through a combination of articles, videos, and critiqued writing exercises from a professional writing instructor.
Courses are available for individuals and teams.
The site also provides free educational blog articles about business writing and answers common grammar questions (hint: only one space is needed after a period instead of two).
Best for: Professionals
Pricing: Varies. For example, the Effective Business Writing course costs $695 for individual enrollment while the Technical Report Writing costs $895.
20. Google Digital Garage
Overview: Learn online marketing for free with Google Digital Garage. The courses are designed to be completed at your own pace and are approved by industry experts. Here are the course categories:
- Data and Tech
- Digital Marketing
- Career Development
The platform offers a good mix of online courses, certifications, live training, and more. Most of the courses are free and approved by industry experts.
Once you’ve completed a course, you’ll receive an accredited certification to include on your LinkedIn or resume.
Best for: Students & Professionals
Overview: Want to learn how to better use WordPress? WP101 offers easy WordPress tutorial videos for beginners. No tech jargon involved.
These videos have helped over three million people learn how to build their own website or blog.
Courses are always up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress. The videos are designed for beginners, but once you master WordPress fundamentals, you can also sign up for other courses like WooCommerce and Jetpack.
Receive unlimited access to 200 video tutorials and seven courses with the All-Access Pass. Site members can also access a member-only forum where you can get your top WP questions answered by experts.
Best for: Beginners
Pricing: $19 for Monthly Access
22. SEMRUSH Academy
Overview: SEMRUSH Academy is a free digital marketing platform with comprehensive courses and exams. Learn skills like
- Content Marketing
- Competitive Research
Lessons can typically be completed in 30 minutes to one hour. Certification exams allow you to earn a certificate to show potential or current employers.
Best for: Beginners
Pricing: Free, but the SEMRUSH tool costs a monthly fee.
23. Yoast Academy
Overview: SEO skills are in high demand. Yoast Academy can help you develop these skills through online SEO training and courses.
Yoast covers all SEO topics, from beginner to advanced. These classes are created by SEO developers and experts. The platform also provides ready-to-use templates for your SEO strategy.
The basic Yoast Academy is free, but the premium version offers even more training such as SEO copywriting, site structure, and keyword research.
Best for: Beginner to Advanced
Pricing: Free to $89 per year for Premium.
Overview: Learning a new language is an excellent career asset, especially if you work in customer service or any customer-facing job. You can learn up to 22 languages online with Memrise including:
The platform uses spaced repetition of flashcards to help you learn a new language faster. There are 50,000+ video clips with native speakers to help you prepare for real-life situations.
Best for: Beginners
Pricing: Free or purchase the Premium monthly subscription plan
Overview: Babbel is the #1 selling language learning app with lessons designed by over 100 linguists. Lessons typically only last 10-15 minutes so it can be a great option for on-the-go professionals.
The platform helps you learn 13 different languages including German, Norwegian, and Turkish. Each lesson builds upon the previous one and immerses you in real-life dialogues to help you start speaking right away.
Babbel offers two subscription plans: The Babbel App Subscription and the Babbel Live Subscription. The Babbel App Subscription gives you unlimited access to all of Babbel’s lessons.
The Babbel Live Subscription includes virtual live language classes taught by experts for all different levels. You also have access to all lessons.
Best for: Beginners
Pricing: Prices for the Babbel App Subscription vary by month, but six months costs $8.45 per month. View prices for Babbel Live here.
Continuing your education can help you stand out
While the U.S. job market will always oscillate between a candidate-driven market (more jobs than workers) and an employer-driven one (fewer jobs), the competition for top jobs is always going to be fierce.
By continuing to develop your skills and demonstrating that you’re committed to continued learning, you can increase your chances of standing out in any job market.
Are you ready for career help from the experts?
The resume writers and career consultants at ResumeSpice can help you stand out in your job search. Your consultant will serve as your expert guide through the process, so you find the best opportunity for your career. If you’re ready to learn more, call 832.930.7378 or contact us online.
Your resume is a critical factor when it comes to getting an interview. A strong and polished one can go a long way with a potential employer. While you know you must include work experience and education, should you list other factors, like hobbies, so you stand among other candidates? (more…)
Just like every individual is unique, so is every resume.
From your years of experience to your specific skill sets, your resume is a unique representation of who you are, professionally (and to an extent, personally).
But there is one thing that all resumes should have in common: five standard resume sections and headers (whether you’re an experienced professional or just beginning your career).
Below we break down the following:
- 5 standard resume sections
- Additional resume sections
- The correct order of resume sections
And we also share actual resume header samples to help your resume stand out!
5 standard resume sections
The following resume sections are standard and should be included on any resume. They are also ATS friendly which increases your chances of getting your resume into the hands of a hiring manager:
- Contact Info
- Title and Branding Statement
“But what about my volunteer work? My awards?” you might ask. “Shouldn’t I include that information on my resume?”
The answer? It depends. Don’t worry, we’ll get to those additional resume sections. But first, let’s break down each standard section in detail and why they’re important to any resume.
1. Contact Info
Add your contact info to your resume to ensure that the hiring manager can easily get in touch with you.
Include the most important contact details at the top of your resume so it’s easy for the ATS or hiring manager to find.
Here’s the information you should include:
- Your professional full name
- Your current city and state
- One phone number
- Your professional email address (aka don’t use “firstname.lastname@example.org”)
- Your LinkedIn profile link
- Optional: Your professional website if you have a portfolio or other relevant information displayed
Keep this section sweet and simple. Just make sure that your contact details are up-to-date and you check your messages often. According to one report, 42% of recruiters said one of the biggest barriers to identifying qualified talent is that candidates don’t respond to calls and emails.
Hint: Be careful not to make the common resume mistake of sharing confidential information such as your gender or nationality.
2. Title & Branding Statement
You only have seven seconds to capture the hiring manager or recruiter’s attention with your resume and communicate who you are and what you’re good at. As such, your resume needs to be direct.
Craft a compelling title and two to three sentences that succinctly describe yourself, your results, and how you would add value to the company through your past experiences.
Think of this section as your resume’s executive summary or highlight reel of your professional experience.
Take the following example:
Results-driven leader with a demonstrated track record of increasing revenue, building high-performance sales teams, and engaging clients through consulting strategic planning. Approachable mentor who uses comprehensive experience in sales and operations management to support the success of the entire team, personally and professionally.
Notice how the sales leader here specifically outlines what he or she would bring to an employer. Take the same approach with your own resume branding statement.
If you’re just getting started with your career, cite your educational experience and what makes you a compelling candidate like this example:
REGULATORY AFFAIRS LEADER
Experienced health-care leader with extensive experience utilizing research, analysis, and innovation to promote patient/consumer well-being. Consistently leverage background in hospital and industry environments to promote continuous regulatory compliance and drug safety.
Hint: A resume objective and branding statements are not the same thing. Resume objectives tell employers what you’re looking for in a job instead of what you can offer them. We recommend sticking with the branding statements since it’s reader/company focused. You can read more about why we don’t recommend objective statements.
What have you accomplished at different jobs and how have you helped past companies succeed? Give hiring managers a comprehensive view of your experience in this essential resume section.
For each job, include the following information on your resume:
- The month/year you started and ended your work at the company (or “present” if you’re still employed by the company)
- The name of the company
- The city/state where you worked
- Your specific job title
- Your responsibilities and achievements
Use bullet points and action verbs to describe your responsibilities and achievements. Also, choose ones that apply closely to the job to which you’re applying. For example, maybe the job description specifically asks for someone who can lead weekly sales team meetings.
If you have the experience, list it:
Lead 10-member sales team meeting — $70M territory across California Coast. Client industries include oil & gas, chemicals, pulp & paper, and food & beverage.
Numbers and percentages are very persuasive so use them as much as possible to prove you deliver results. Here are a few more examples:
- Increased month-on-month organic blog traffic by 75% in less than 12 months.
- Lead accounting for 110-employee organization with $1.4B in annual revenue.
- Report directly to COO while managing a 15-person manufacturing team.
If you don’t have percentages or numbers to share, be descriptive with your responsibilities and the skills you developed at different jobs. This is especially important for recent graduates.
This resume section covers your academic background. Include the following information:
- Month/year you graduated
- Your university’s name
- Degree received, any specializations
- The city/state where your university is located
List your educational experience in chronological order. For example, if you graduated with your MBA in 2017, add it first and then put your Bachelor’s degree information.
Also, use this section to share special academic projects and your GPA if it was high. If you’re a new graduate, didn’t go to college, or haven’t graduated yet, list your high school, clubs, study abroad programs, etc.
This resume section is your opportunity to let the recruiter or hiring manager know your unique skill sets and core competencies.
List 5-15 skills, beginning with your strongest skills first. Here’s an example of a core competency section for a sales leader:
Corporate Account Management · Consultative Sales · Strategic Planning · Customer Relations · Client Retention · Sales & Operation Management · Technical Acumen · P&L Responsibility · Talent Development · Product Development · Supply Chain Management · Value-Based Business Solutions · Business Development
Also, make sure that the skills you list relate to the job to which you’re applying. Your expert piano playing skills, for example, shouldn’t be listed on a resume being submitted for a Marketing Manager position.
You can also divide this resume section into two. Maybe you’re applying for an IT position. Since this is a technical job, you could include a “Technical Skills” section that includes very specific IT skills.
Hint: Weave job description keywords throughout your resume, not just in one section, to help with an ATS scan.
Additional resume sections
There you have it. These are the five non-negotiable sections you should include on your resume.
However, there are optional ones that you can add. Extra resume sections really depend on the job to which you’re applying.
Say that you’re applying for an HR position that requires interacting with international applicants. Including a separate resume section for “Languages” that you speak would probably be appropriate.
Here are just a few examples of other optional resume sections:
Hobbies & Interests: Especially if you’re a recent graduate without much experience, this section can be beneficial for highlighting hobbies that relate to the job or company. If you’re applying for a marketing position, your interest in graphic design would be relevant.
Certifications: Use this section to show off your professional certifications from universities and industry groups. Maybe you’re applying for a teaching position. List your ESL certifications. Or maybe you’re applying to be a business manager. The Six Sigma certification would be appropriate to include.
Volunteer Work: Volunteer work such as helping at soup kitchens or running in charity marathons shows your willingness to help others. It also suggests you’re a team player. You can format this section exactly like your “Experience” section.
Awards: Were you the Sales Manager of the Year? Or did you win a Leadership Award in your industry? List official recognitions of your accomplishments such as from former companies, your university, and other organizations. These awards can help you stand out from other applicants.
Conferences & Training: Show employers that you are committed to continual learning by providing professional industry conferences and training courses you’ve attended.
Just ensure that you have enough information for any resume section you add. Also, be careful with optional sections. Make sure they’re really necessary and aren’t going to take valuable space and attention away from your “Experience” section.
The correct order of resume sections
At the end of the day, the right order for your resume sections depends on your level of experience and the job to which you’re applying.
However, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow with the structure (based on your experience level).
If you’re a recent graduate, you likely haven’t had many positions. In this case, highlight your education section before your experience. Showcase your academic background, university accomplishments, and related courses.
- Contact information
- Title/Branding Statement
- Core Competencies
- Optional sections
Hint: Your resume should be one page long as a beginner. Here’s a broad guide on appropriate resume lengths.
Professional & Executive:
As an experienced professional or someone with executive experience, highlight your relevant work experience first. Place your educational background next.
- Contact information
- Title/Branding Statement
- Core Competencies
- Optional sections
Hint: If you’re a newbie to the job market, include some of the optional resume sections at the bottom of your resume such as academic awards, volunteer work, and hobbies and interests.
Professional resume headers examples
What’s in a name? A lot, actually, when it comes to your resume headers. Not only do they orient the reader, but they can also make or break your chances of getting through an ATS scan.
Choose resume headers that clearly communicate your resume information. Leave creativity at the door.
For example, “My Academic Career” might sound compelling as a header, but it can quickly confuse an ATS scanner. In this case, “Education” would be the best header option.
Check out these professional ATS-friendly header examples:
- Core Competencies
- Professional Associations
- Awards & Honors
- Volunteer Work
When in doubt, follow the KISS acronym with your resume headers: “Keep it simple, Sally.”
Add these resume sections and headers to your own resume
How you present information on your resume directly impacts whether or not you get asked to interview. Make your resume stand out with these resume sections and headers.
Need additional help? ResumeSpice is here to help. Our team of experts will work with you to create a powerful resume, optimized to pass ATS screeners. Please contact us today to learn about our services!
Writing your resume is a challenge. There are so many pieces and parts and only so much space to fit it all in.
One particular area many candidates find particularly daunting is the Work Experience section. It’s no wonder. This is the most important section and the one hiring managers will look to first to see if you’re a fit for their job opening. (more…)
A well-written resume can take hours to create and polish.
So it’s understandably discouraging when the document you spent hours crafting doesn’t make it past the dreaded applicant tracking system (ATS).
An ATS is software that’s used by hiring teams to help them collect, scan, and rank submitted resumes.
Luckily, there are ways to beat the bots – and design a resume that performs well on an ATS scan.
Below we’re going to outline how applicant tracking systems actually work, present an ATS friendly template, and share nine ATS resume tips to create a resume that will increase your chances of getting to the next step in the hiring process!
What is an applicant tracking system (ATS)?
As you can imagine, large companies receive thousands of applications every month. An ATS can significantly speed up the overall recruitment process by reducing the amount of required manual (i.e., human) review required.
How does an ATS work?
Consider an ATS to be a type of gatekeeper for hiring managers. It ranks candidates by most to least qualified and shows the hiring team who might be the best fit for the job.
If a resume is formatted correctly and includes the right keywords – and passes the ATS screening – it’s typically then reviewed by a human decision-maker. These elements are essential to get right to ensure that you make it past this first screening step.
ATS resume template for Word
Check out this free 2021 Word resume template optimized specifically for ATS scans. Designed for all types of experience levels — from beginner to experienced — this template is easy to download and add in your details.
How to create an ATS friendly resume
Customize the above template by following these nine tips.
1. Don’t get fancy with your resume.
There are times when glitz and glam are appropriate in the business world. Your resume is not one of those times.
Fancy templates with different fonts and graphics are difficult for ATS’s to interpret. Your information gets scrambled in the system and never even makes it to the hiring manager. Create a straightforward resume that’s easy for an ATS to scan.
One way to do this is to order your information chronologically (i.e. organize experience from most recent to oldest). Avoid fancy graphics, italics, and underlining. Also avoid unique fonts. Instead, go with common fonts like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial and a standard 11 point font size.
It might hurt if you’re the creative type, but trust us; an ATS isn’t grading you on creativity.
2. Include standard headings
Write section headings that an applicant tracking system can easily understand and organize.
Think of an ATS as being an older, traditional recruiter who has 30 years of experience under their belt. Creative headers like “Why I’m the Perfect Fit” or “Where I Graduated” aren’t going to resonate. It actually confuses the system.
Here are standard resume headings that are recognized by ATS software:
- Work Experience
- Volunteer Work
You can also refer back to the ATS friendly resume template for standard section headings. Another tip? Don’t combine certain resume sections together as an ATS might not be able to properly organize the information.
3. Optimize your resume for keywords
The right keywords are the bread and butter for your resume. An ATS scans for keywords that match with the job description. Include exact keywords that show an ATS that you’re qualified for the job.
To do this, scroll through the job description and make a list of the keywords. Say that you’re looking at a job description for a marketing manager position. Keywords might include:
- Marketing Campaign
- Sales and Marketing
- Social Media
- Customer Relationship Management
- Public Relations
- Adobe Photoshop
Include these keywords 2-3 times throughout your resume.
Also, keywords like “go-getter” and “hard worker” aren’t going to cut it for an ATS (or a hiring manager for that matter). Use specific keywords that are on the job description rather than vague buzzwords.
4. Customize your resume to match the job description
A company programs an ATS to score resumes by specific criteria. Your resume needs to match the criteria set in a specific job description as closely as possible to make it to the next level.
Maybe the job description says you need to have two years of experience with SEO. A qualifying question in the ATS might then be, “How many years of SEO experience do you have?”
If you say “one year of experience,” the system will likely automatically reject or lower your score since you don’t meet the criteria. Tailor your resume to the job description as much as you can (without making anything up) to help your resume get through the ATS scan.
5. Remove tables, columns, headers, and footers
In a regular Word document, elements such as tables and columns make everything easier to read. In a resume, however, these elements cause significant problems for ATS software as it can’t comprehend the format.
Your resume’s original organization can also be scrambled by the software, causing your information to not make any sense. Instead of these elements, use standard circle bullet points to present your experience and skills.
6. Make your contact info easy for the software to find
A common mistake with resumes is placing contact info in the header or footer of the design. This makes it difficult for ATS software to identify the information.
Place contact information such as your name, phone number and email address front and center, at the top of the resume, but don’t include it in a header.
7. Spell out degrees and abbreviations
While abbreviations and acronyms are helpful to make your resume succinct, ATS software isn’t always programmed to recognize the info.
Here’s an easy fix. For example, if you earned an MBA, spell out “Masters of Business Administration” but then include “MBA” in parentheses. No matter what keyword the ATS or recruiter uses, your info should pop up.
Hint: As much as you may want to show off your qualifications, don’t place titles after your name in the contact info. The ATS can garble the content. Instead, weave the info into the body of your resume as keywords.
8. Proofread for formatting mistakes
Don’t let your resume get stopped by ATS software because of silly formatting mistakes. Watch out specifically for extra spaces between words.
For example, say that you include the keyword “content marketing” in your resume. If there’s an extra space between the words “content marketing,” an ATS won’t recognize the keyword. Carefully go back through your resume before submitting and check for extra spaces.
Another resume problem? Incorrect date formatting. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with the MM/YYYY format (although spelling out the month and numerically presenting the year such as “June 2018” can work as well).
9. Send your resume as a Word doc
How have you submitted your resume in the past? 43% of resumes are submitted in an incompatible file type. Surprisingly, PDF can be an incompatible file type for many ATS systems.
Unless the application platform specifically says that you can submit a PDF file, submit your resume as a Word document (docx. or doc.).
Hint: Since some ATS systems show the resume file name to the hiring manager, create a professional resume title such as with your first and last name. Ex. katiejohnson.docx.
Use these ATS resume tips and template to pass the ATS test
An ATS scan doesn’t have to mean a death sentence for your resume. By optimizing for keywords and using an ATS-friendly format, your resume has a better chance of passing an ATS test and reaching the hiring manager.
An airtight way to ensure your resume passes the ATS test is to work with a resume writing service. ResumeSpice is here to help. Our team of experts will work with you to create a powerful resume, optimized to pass ATS screeners. Please contact us today to learn about our services!
You’ve just successfully submitted your application for your dream job. Congrats! Your potential employer now wants you to complete a…pre-employment personality test?
While the thought of a test assessing your personality can be intimidating, it’s really just another way for the potential employer to see if you’d excel in the position.
These tests go beyond your skillset and experience to show what makes you tick, both personally and professionally.
Learn more about pre-employment personality tests below and how to approach the most common types on the market.
What is a pre-employment personality test?
A pre-employment personality test is a tool that potential employers use to assess candidates’ character traits and behaviors to help determine if they’d be a good fit for the job.
Personality tests look at things like your communication style, motivators, and work preferences. For employers, they provide a better understanding of the job applicant pool so they can reduce employee turnover (and costs!), and offer more consistency in hiring.
Below are six of the most common types of personality tests, including how you can best prepare for each type.
6 types of personality tests in the workplace
What it is: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a 93-question, self-awareness test that assesses respondents according to four categories or eight tendencies:
- Introversion or extroversion
- Sensing or intuition
- Thinking or feeling
- Judging or perceiving
Each MBTI question comes with two choice statements where you can answer A or B.
The test looks at which tendencies your personality leans more toward (e.g. you’re more introverted than extroverted) to give you a 4-letter personality type such as INFP or ESTJ. There are 16 personality types in all.
MBTI explainer video
Used by more than 88% of Fortune 500 companies, the test is designed to assess your innate personality type preferences and help the employer better understand how you operate.
How to prepare: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator isn’t your traditional personality test. It tells a potential employer how you’ll fit in with the company team, but isn’t an appropriate indicator if you’re the best fit for the position.
And since there are no right or wrong types, employers can’t use it to compare you with someone else. As such, it’s difficult to prepare for the test. You can, however, become more familiar with the psychological categories so you can better understand your results:
- Extraversion or Introversion (E or I)
- Sensing or Intuition (S or N)
- Thinking or Feeling (T or F)
- Judging or Perceiving (J or P)
Your final personality type tells a good deal about your work style such as how you approach problems, deal with stress, make decisions, and more.
What it is: The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment is an untimed, free-choice hiring test that helps predict on-the-job success. The test is more than 60 years old and is EFPA-certified.
Here’s how it works: You receive two lists of adjectives. Under the first list, you’ll select words that describe how you believe others expect you to act. Under the second list, you’ll select words that describe how you view yourself.
Adjectives are related to four characteristics (or key behavioral drives) that determine workplace behavior: dominance, extraversion, patience, and formality. At the end of the test, you’ll receive a Reference Profile (there are 17 Reference Profiles in all) that reflects how you approach the world.
How to prepare: The PI Assessment takes between 10-15 minutes to complete. The end result tells a lot about your personality and how you respond to certain situations.
Each list comes with 86 adjectives. To help the employer better understand your personality and top characteristics, choose between 20-50 adjectives in each list (hint: don’t choose all 86 as this won’t tell your potential employer anything about you). Adjectives include things like “unbiased,” “friendly,” “forceful,” and “respectable.”
To prepare for the assessment, it also helps to understand the four primary characteristics that the assessment analyzes:
- Dominance. This characteristic (also known as A drive) shows how much you try to control your environment.
- Extraversion. The characteristic (aka B drive) measures how social you are and how much you try to control your environment.
- Patience. This is known as the C drive which measures how much you seek consistency and stability.
- Formality. This characteristic (aka D drive) measures how much you seek to conform to formal rules and structure.
If you want to score low on dominance, you’d select adjectives that show you’re agreeable and accommodating. If you want to score high on patience, you’d choose adjectives related to stability.
Based on your answers, your Reference Profile might show that you’re analytical and fall under being an analyzer or controller. Or it might show that you’re social and act as a captain or maybe a collaborator.
There are no right or wrong answers here, but the assessment does provide interesting personality insights!
What it is: This personal assessment tool analyzes your personality according to four personality traits or DISC factors. It’s used to understand your ability to work with a team and your professional behavior style.
Used by a wide range of organizations including government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, the DiSC assessment can be completed online and includes 12-30 questions. Choose between adjectives or phrases that you relate to the most and the least.
DiSC factors include:
- Dominant (D)
- Influential (I)
- Steady (S)
- Compliant (C)
These factors show employers how you respond to conflict, how you work with teammates if you’re a leader and more. You’ll receive a personality profile at the end of the assessment that shows where you “fit” into the four main personality reference points.
How to prepare: This temperament assessment is about 80 questions long and takes 15-30 minutes to complete. It’s designed to show your strengths based on the DiSc factors.
Since the DiSC assessment is not technically a test, it’s not something you can really prepare for. However, it is helpful to understand what each DisC factor means and how each relates to specific positions:
- Dominant. This factor means that you exhibit dominant tendencies and are focused on results and problem-solving.
- Influential. This factor suggests that you are more open and focus on relationships.
- Steady. S personalities mean that you are dependable and are a collaborative team player.
- Compliant. This factor means that you are focused on things like quality, accuracy, and competency.
Similar to the PI Behavioral Assessment, these factors tell you a lot about your personality and how well you’ll fit in a certain position.
For example, if you lean more toward D (Dominant), you might be better suited for an executive position or an entrepreneurial role. If you lean more toward C (Compliant), an engineer, analyst, or content marketing position could be a good fit, as you prioritize quality and are detail-oriented.
What it is: The Caliper Profile is an objective assessment that measures 22 character traits to predict on-the-job behaviors and potential.
Based on both cognitive and behavioral aspects of your personality, the assessment includes a mix of true/false questions, multiple-choice, and statements. For example, with the Caliper Profile statements, choose answers that reflect you the most or least.
Sample statements include things like “I am an effective negotiator” and “I always plan my expenses in advance.”
Once you’ve completed the test, your results are measured against one or more validated job models. The assessment analyzes you by 56 competencies and has 52 job models.
How to prepare: The Caliper Profile test includes 98 questions. There’s no time limit, but it normally takes about an hour to complete.
To successfully pass the Caliper Profile, become familiar with the types of questions on the test. One large part of the test measures your ability to solve cognitive problems such as recognizing patterns and selecting the next number in a series (some of these questions can be tough).
Take practice tests online and identify any areas where you struggle. Pay extra attention to cognitive questions, but practice answering all types of questions. Get a good night’s sleep before the test and don’t overthink it.
And know that you can’t fail the test. It’s designed to help the employer discover if you’re a match for the job!
What it is: Also known as OPQ32, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire describes an individual’s preferred or typical behavioral style. It helps an employer decide if your personality will suit the job.
The questionnaire assesses 32 work-related dimensions which are grouped into three categories:
- Relationship with People. Influence, Sociability, and Empathy.
- Thinking Style and Feelings. Analysis, Creativity and Change, and Structure.
- Emotions. Emotion and Dynamism.
Each question includes four statements or adjectives to choose from. Here’s an example of what these statements might look like:
- I really like to help others.
- I work best in teams.
- I like to get things exactly right.
- I sustain high levels of energy.
You’d then select which statement is more or least like you. Results are measured on a consistency scale.
How to prepare: The questionnaire includes 104 questions and takes about 25 minutes to complete. The best way to prepare for the OPQ32 is to simply practice. Take practice tests and become familiar with the types of statements that are listed within the questionnaire.
As with the other tests, you can’t fail, but it does help to build your confidence and understand your preliminary results by preparing.
Employers can choose a custom report once you complete the questionnaire and see how you stack up against other applicants.
6. The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)
What it is: The Hogan Personality Inventory describes “bright-side personality – qualities that describe how we relate to others when we are at our best.” The test tells employers how well you will fit with the job and how you will act in different circumstances.
It’s based on the Five-Factor Model of Personality. This model features a hierarchical organization of personality traits based on five basic dimensions:
- Openness to Experience.
Based on these dimensions, the HPI is made up of seven primary scales, six occupational scales, and 42 subscales. Scales include things like “Adjustment,” “Prudence,” and “Ambition.”
How to prepare: The HPI includes 206 true/false questions and takes between 15- to 20-minutes to complete. Here are a few sample questions where you would answer either true or false:
- I love spending time with other people.
- If a friend comes to me looking for help, I do all I can to assist.
- I often feel stressed.
- I find a routine stifling.
- I work very hard toward my goals.
Use practice tests to review sample questions and understand what the results mean for you.
For example, if you score high on Ambition, this suggests that you are a self-starter, but might be overly competitive. If you score low on Sociability, you might be good at working alone, but might not be as apt to speak in public.
Be honest on your pre-employment personality test
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. – Bruce Lee
This quote is absolutely true, but it can feel a bit daunting to completely be yourself on any of these pre-employment personality tests.
But if you base answers on what you think the employer will want to hear, the job probably isn’t going to be the best fit over the long term. Honesty really is the best approach.
If you’re looking to make a career change, ResumeSpice is here to help. We offer premium career coaching, resume writing, and cover letter services, LinkedIn profile writing, and more. Please contact us today to learn about our services!