Quick & Easy Resume Makeovers: Boost your Resume and Cover Letter with Key Words to Get the Job in 2017

Have you been sending off dozens of job applications… without getting an interview… or even a reply? Then, you need this newly released-book.

The way employers look for candidates has changed dramatically in the last decade with the introduction of technology that reduces hundreds of applications down to just a handful. Ouch!

There are NEW RULES for writing job applications. Your old résumé simply won’t work without the correct formatting and key words.

Most career changers aren’t aware that 80% or more of companies now use Applicant Tracking Systems (sometimes called ‘robots’) to make the huge number of resumes they receive more manageable. They do this by looking for key words that are in the Position Description – if you don’t have these keywords, your application goes in the bin.

In this book, you will learn:Final Cover_Quick & Easy Resume Makeovers

  • THE NEW RULES for getting a job in 2017
  • How to write job applications to get into the ‘yes’ pile
  • How to find and use key words in your application
  • How to format your application to get past the robots
  • How to ‘sell’ your achievements in your application
  • How to ‘tailor’ each application in line with the Position Description
  • How to write a winner cover letter
  • Tips on how to answer selection criteria for government jobs
  • How to write a stand-out LinkedIn Profile to impress employers

If you’re like most career changers, you’ve spotted a great job and you need your résumé makeover … NOW!

No problem. We’ve made it really quick and easy for you to update your résumé and cover letter using templates, where you replace the sample text with your own information. We’ve also provided valuable QUICK GUIDES, CHEAT SHEETS and CHECKLISTS to make sure your application is free of errors that could end your career before it starts.

Dawn Richards has spent the past twenty years as a career coach and professional resume writer, helping job seekers get the jobs of their dreams. She is the author of best-selling career books: Selection Criteria Toolkit, Get That Government Job and From Fired to Hired.


Please note – this book uses templates and examples from Australian and New Zealand applications (Aussie resumes are a little more detailed and longer than US resumes). But, the information is still highly relevant because 90% of companies in the US use applicant tracking systems that require key words and robot-friendly formatting to move your application to the ‘yes’ pile for interviews.

Like to read a sample?

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Getting a handle on today’s new job market Job trends – more contracts and part time roles
Summing up the current employment market ‘New Rules’ for successful career changers

Chapter 2: The Story of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Here’s a brief timeline of how ATS came into being
Why are Applicant Tracking Systems Used?
Here’s how Applicant Tracking Systems work Robot readers and human readers

Chapter 3: Looking for Key Words and Phrases Example of key words in a PD for Regional Sales Manager role
Use the key words and the language of the job
How to find frequently used résumé keywords for certain industries
How to generate Key Words using a Word Cloud
Jobscan Résumé and Job Match Check

Chapter 4: How to format your résumé to keep the robots happy and go to the ‘yes’ pile for human readers
12 Point Formatting Guide

Chapter 5: How to structure your new résumé and tailor it for each role
Work out the headings you will use in your résumé
‘What to put where’ in your updated résumé
How to ‘sell yourself’ in your résumé with achievements

Chapter 6: 10 Easy Steps to writing your job application

Chapter 7: How to write a winner cover letter using a proven formula
Example of a winner cover letter for Administrative Officer role
Simple steps to writing a winner cover letter

14 Point Proofreading Checklist to move your application to the ‘YES’ pile
CHEAT SHEET – Homonyms that can sink your chance of success

Chapter 9: QUICK GUIDE (LINKEDIN PROFILE) how to build your brand (you and your skills) on social media
Tips to build your brand and ‘sell’ yourself on LinkedIn

Chapter 10: Tips for answering selection criteria (Key Capability Statement) for government jobs Trends in government employment.
Quick Introduction to writing a government application Examples of responses to selection criteria

Chapter 11: Résumé Makeover for Administrative Officer role – ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Résumés
This case study takes you step-by-step through updating and tailoring your résumé and cover letter for a specific role. It also includes a Selection Criteria Statement (Key Capability Statement) tailored for this government position.

Appendix: Templates, Quick Guides and Cheat Sheets.

Who will benefit from reading this book?

• Applicants who have been sending off loads of applications, without getting a response, this book will show you the NEW WAY to write résumés for the NEW JOB MARKET in 2017.

• Applicants who are in a contract position (as more and more people are), this book will help you prepare for your next role.

• Applicants who were slam-dunked with retrenchment after being in the same job for yonks, this book will help you get back on track to get a new and better job.

• Mature aged applicants with a dinosaur résumé from ten years ago (or no résumé), this book will teach you how to write a winning résumé and cover letter from scratch – we’ll take you step-by-step through the process.

• Applicants who don’t know how 80% of recruiters and employers use key words and robot scanners. You need to read this book if you want to get a job in today’s tough job market.

• Applicants who don’t have a professional LinkedIn Profile, you’ll be behind the eight ball when it comes to recruiters and employers checking you out to offer you a job.

• Graduates looking for your first job – read this book and then read Get That Government Job for everything you need to know about getting a private sector or government job.

• Applicants interested in getting a government job but don‘t know beans about answering selection criteria (now called key capabilities), this book will shine a little light for you – then read Get That Government Job for the nitty-gritty stuff.


Sample Chapter: Chapter 4

How to format your résumé to keep the robots happy and go to the ‘yes’ pile for human readers

Keep in mind the KISS Principle – Keep It Simple Sweetheart – no fancy bullets, text boxes, tables, photos, underlining or unusual headings. Robots get confused with fancy formatting and will ‘bin’ your application long before a human reader sees it.

Formatting Quick Guide:
1. Headers and Footers Avoid using headers and footers in your résumé because they may jam the algorithms on some ATS software. It’s safer to keep contact information in the body of the document to ensure it doesn’t get lost.

2. You will need a custom résumé for every job Use actual wording from the job description in your résumé. For example, if a nursing job PD asks for someone with ‘triage experience’ or ‘primary care experience’, be sure that your résumé contains ‘triage experience’ or ‘primary care experience’.

3. Don’t include a photo in your résumé Don’t include a photo in your résumé unless it’s a requirement of the role, such as for acting or modelling. However, do include a professional photo in your LinkedIn profile to build trust. Most recruiters and employers check out LinkedIn profiles as part of the recruitment and selection process.

4. Text Boxes and Tables Text boxes and tables are common formatting elements that give your document a professional look. ATS are getting more and more sophisticated in what they can recognise but it’s safer to use plain formatting. If the ATS can’t recognise the field, it will show up blank. Imagine what happens to a résumé written completely within a text box. Disaster! Some of the templates available for purchase online are written this way. Don’t use them. Use hard set tabs to format your document.

5. Use the reverse chronological format – avoid the functional format The ATS is developed to parse chronological résumés – not functional résumés that are designed to disguise gaps in employment. Make sure you account for periods of time when you are out of the workforce to avoid being given a poor ranking by the robots. Nine out of ten recruiters prefer the reverse chronological format because it is easier to read.

6. Typography and Layout Sans serif fonts like Courier, Arial, Verdana and Helvetica work best on screens, while serif fonts like Times New Roman are easier to read in printed documents. Keep your formatting simple by using a universal font (the ones that come with your computer) that will look the same on the recruiter’s screen as they do on yours. The best point sizes to use are 14 point for headers and 10-12 point for body text.

7. Name your file professionally Put your name and the position you are applying for in the file name or it may get lost. Call your résumé ‘Mary Smith_ Finance Manager.’ Don’t call your document just ‘Mary Smith_Résumé’.

8. Use common headings in your résumé Use common headings the robots will look for such as: Professional Profile, Skills, Career Highlights, Professional Experience, Employment Experience, Employment History, Qualifications, Education and Training so that the robots will recognise your headings. Don’t use uncommon headings such as Further Information, Added Value, Unpaid Employment, Personal Referees, Unpaid Work Experience, Hobbies, etc.

9. Use white space to break up your document and make it easy to read White space is one of the most important layout elements. Don’t make the common mistake of using a small font size and trying to squeeze everything onto the page to make your résumé shorter. If your résumé is hard to read, the human reader will simply go ‘next’.

10. Present the information in your Employment Experience in the same order Use the sequence of: company name, location, position title and dates of employment, starting with the most recent job. Consistency in formatting looks professional and makes the document easier to read.

11. Be thorough with proofreading Incorrect spelling and grammar will quickly get your application binned. Don’t rely solely on your computer’s spellchecker. It won’t pick up where you use an incorrect homonym (words that sound the same but have a different meaning) such as ‘there’ instead of ‘their’.

12. Use bold and italics (but not underline) to make your document look professional Avoid underlining words because this can affect the legibility of lower case descenders (the parts of the letter below the line) of letters such a, g, j and y. The scanners get confused with underlined words.

You can kickstart your application using the formatted templates that come with this book. Simply replace the text with your own information to get a résumé that is ATS friendly.

Chapter 4: Summary

  • Avoid fancy formatting and use the KISS principle to ensure your application is read by the scanners and goes in the ‘yes’ pile for human readers. You will need a custom résumé for every job you apply for – use the actual key words from the PD in your résumé.
  • Use common headings in your résumé to make sure the scanners can recognise what you’ve written. If you use unfamiliar headings, the page will be blank. Use the PROOFREADING QUICK GUIDE to make sure your application is free from errors. It only takes one or two errors to have your application binned.