Tricks of the Trade: JobScan

Occasionally, one of my clients may send me an online posting and say "Write me a resume and cover letter for that." 

Now, customizing your application to an online posting can be a downright frustrating experience. We’re told to “match key words” and “mirror language,” but which key words? What language? We all know that your resume and cover letter should be adjusted to apply for each unique posting, however, few of us feel confident when actually doing the adjusting. 

What I do when writing a targeted resume is run the final copy versus the posting text in JobScan.

JobScan compares your resume's text to the job posting's text.

JobScan is a resume optimization tool that takes the text of your resume and scans it against a posting of your choosing. It analyzes the post for keywords and important content, then spits out a report on how your resume stacks up. 

I chose an old resume and grabbed the first post I could find on Indeed.

Why is this important? Because of Applicant Tracking Systems.

ATS technology is how HR managers are able to parse and critically analyze thousands of resumes every day. Whereas hiring managers look for misspelled words, bad grammar, and skill deficits in order to eliminate candidates (a tedious process, no doubt), ATS searches for keyword matches and ranks resumes by the frequency of these matches. If your resume mirrors 4 out of the 10 selected keywords for a job posting, you will be ranked lower in terms of candidacy than a resume that matches 5 out of 10. It's a cold, robotic process, but ATS is an integral part of the 21st-century job hunting process. Understanding ATS and how you can work with it, rather than against it, is crucial to achieving professional success.

That's why JobScan is such a handy tool: it explains, in plain English, what you can do to "avoid the void" and have your application get past that first, brutally exclusive hurdle.

In addition to keyword analysis, JobScan can also identify if the job in question requires an advanced degree or any specific hard/soft skills. It even shows a visual comparison of the skills necessary for the job and how your resume compares. 

Pro: JobScan is free to use. Con: it costs $$$ for your full report.

For what it's worth, I do NOT work for this company nor do I have any association with it whatsoever. It's just a handy tool that has saved my butt many times over and is accessible (and incredibly useful) to anyone looking to polish and hone their resume. Give it a shot!




Resolve to own a better resume

Warning: this post will contain some hard pills to swallow.

Happy New Year, friends! The inevitable annual changeover has come and gone and left everything and everyone feeling fresh and new. If you’re the resolution-setting type, this is your perfect opportunity to lay out your attack strategy for 2017. You might plan to lose a little weight; perhaps you’ll ditch the cigarettes and opt for a vaporizer instead.

Or maybe, like many professionals, this will be the year you move up the ladder, break into a new industry, or simply find that job you’ve been dreaming of for so long. You’ll need to pull up (or dust off) the old resume. It could definitely use some updates and a little polish to make it shine. How hard can that be?

The pills

Six seconds. 

That’s the number researchers arrived at when trying to determine how long a recruiter will spend reviewing your resume.


That’s how many applications, on average, an employer receives for just one position posted online.


That’s how many applicants, on average, are granted interviews post-application. If you and 249 other people apply for a job, only 5 (or 2%) will be called in for an interview. And since there’s only one position available and there are five of you… Well, you do the math.

“Shave and a haircut, two bits”

Applying for a job is like knocking on the door of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. If you don’t know the knock code, a metal slat will slide open to reveal two steely, angry eyes and a gruff voice will tell you to beat it. Worse yet, you may get no response at all and be forced to stand there, haplessly waiting for a reply that’s never going to come.

But if you know the coded pattern of knocking that the bouncer wants to hear, you’re in.

Now let’s apply that analogy to the job hunt: the club is the company; the bouncer is the hiring manager; and your knock is your resume.

So what’s the code?

Would you do your own plumbing?

A few years back, researchers performed a study that paired recruiters with eye-tracking technology. Here’s a quick synopsis of that project and its findings:

To summarize: recruiters read a lot of resumes, so they spend very little time on each one. To make your resume most effective, information should be presented strategically and in a hierarchy.

In that same study, the researchers used a Likert scale, which is a type of scale that employs questionnaires that offer users a variety of choices (for example, “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree”). On a scale of 1 to 7, the recruiters gave an average “usability” rating of 3.9 to self-written resumes, whereas professionally written resumes earned a whopping 6.2.

The difference, as the research shows, is that professionally written resumes offer clear visual hierarchies and display the most important, relevant information right where recruiters expect to find it. In short, having your resume professionally rewritten makes the most out of six seconds.  

Make a resolution that matters

Even if you’re not the resolution-setting type, right now is the perfect opportunity to do something progressive for your career.

It doesn’t matter what field or industry you’re in, or how prestigious (or not-so-prestigious) your job title is. It doesn’t matter if you’re an old veteran seeking advancement or a newbie looking for entry-level positions. What does matter is that we’re all looking to gain entry to the club – and that we all need to know that coded knock pattern to get in.

If you want to make waves in your career, start with a perfectly placed rock in the form of a custom-fit resume, written and designed by Blacklock Writing. For more info on what I do and how I do it, click here.