phd resume writing strategy should include ATS

PhD Resume Writing Strategy: How to Get Your Resume Read by a Human Being

If you ever applied for a position online through an organization’s website, there is a strong chance that your resume was screened—and maybe even rejected—by an automated system. While you may be tempted to think that putting too much work on your resume is a waste of time considering that it might never be seen by a human, you must think again and review your PhD resume writing strategy. The main reason why so many resumes are rejected is not because of a machine, but because automated systems have identified that they haven’t been written with care.

Here are some tips to make sure that your PhD resume writing strategy takes automated tracking systems into account, and lands the fruit of your labor for six crucial seconds in the hands of a real live being:

Identify keywords

You should pay close attention to the job description and company hiring pages and look for qualities, characteristics and skills that are important to the organization. Chances are these terms are what they will be looking for in the resumes they receive.

Use these keywords in your resume

The next step is to make sure that you use the keywords you identified (3 to 5 times) to describe what you have done in the past, or what you are currently doing. Avoid overstuffing your resume. Cramming words with too much effort will not only look and sound weird to the human eye, but it will also be flagged by the machine.

If you struggle to include these keywords in the bullet points of your job description, a great way to make sure that all important terms are on your resume is to add a skills section.

Less is more

Don’t be too creative and be conservative. Avoid intricate layouts, pictures, boxes, whimsical fonts, as they can confuse the automated system and get your resume rejected.

Finally, remember that the existence of automated tracking systems should not be a reason for you to be pessimistic about your chances of getting hired and influence to amount of time and care you spend writing your resume. On the contrary, you should adjust your PhD resume writing strategy to this new reality, and make sure that you are tailoring your resume for each position you apply for. If you don’t use keywords that match what the organization is looking for, you’re not only selling yourself short, but you’re also reducing your chances of having your resume be read by a human eye.


Need to learn more about writing a resume that will jump start your non-academic PhD career? We got you covered! Download our free Quick Resume Writing Guide 

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