By no means do I think I am alone, but GOSH I really do hate it.
The basic reasons feel pretty universal. More than anything, it seems like you are forced into using hilariously business-flowery language to describe what are sometimes criminally boring jobs & tasks. No, I wasn't a dishwasher, I was a "Sanitation Specialist and Culinary Equipment Efficiency Expert". I can play the game as well as anyone (especially now thanks to ChatGPT), but it makes me feel insane. I'm taking my experience, putting it through this filter, KNOWING that the hiring manager has to try and decode the same thing to figure out that I was indeed just a dishwasher. Why are we still doing this?
It's funny, it's joked about, it's ridiculous, and that is what it is. Part of the dance we do.
What got me going this time around is the battle against ATS, the Applicant Tracker System. I'm currently looking for work, and intending to get a remote job in either development or data analysis, which means I'm pitting myself against hundreds if not thousands of applicants. Understandably, there needs to be a better way for these hiring managers to weed through the applicants to find a best fit.
HOWEVER. While it's understandable, it has still made my journey closer to the 'Hellish' end of the spectrum. Why? I wanted to stand out!
I love design, and I take my graphic, UI, and UX design seriously. I wanted to communicate this enthusiasm (and the skills I have) in my resume with not words, but aesthetic. Figma has been my design tool of choice (and it's free...), so I hopped on, and started brainstorming my updated resume.
My first stab was to have a resume in my pocket if I needed one for industry work; something in the meantime. I wanted it to be a little more colorful, and show some spunk. This I knew wouldn't be filtered at all, so I could afford to have some fun with it.
The next resume was something I was pretty proud of. Simple, black and white, but clearly showed some design chops and aesthetic sensibilities. More than that, it was straightforward and to the point. I though I had really done it...until I learned that Figma's PDF export didn't really work for resumes; it couldn't be parsed properly. Rats.
Okay, FINE, I thought. I'll head over to Google Docs and "do this right".
I copied all of the information and plugged it into a pretty basic format. I kept some of the basic structure, but put my skills in the righthand column so my work experience would take the lead. I was still able to fit everything I needed to nicely, and EB Garamond still kept things feeling classy.
This was the resume I used to apply to over a dozen jobs, and I was feeling pretty good about it. Little did I know.
Now, here's the thing. I know I'm not always going to be the prime candidate. I have some good experience, and a solid track record, but for a lot of these positions it's a pivot: I'm coming from development and getting into analysis. There's a lot of overlap, but it's not all 1-1, so I'm not expecting to be a slam dunk every time. However, with that in mind, I am mostly applying to Junior positions, and I thought that would at least be a tempting offer — an experienced developer for the price of a junior!
Well, I realized something was up when I got an automated rejection less than three hours after applying to a junior role I was feeling really confident about. Again, I'm not expecting a job offer immediately, but considering all of the automation happened after 10PM, I smelled something fishy.
After a little digging, I found out that ATS systems don't like columns.
Are you f*cking kidding me.
After weeks of applications, I don't think I'll get a callback from any of them because my skills aren't being read. Because I wanted my resume to look nice. SHAME ON ME, I GUESS!
I'm aware this is whole post is a little catty - part of the game is learning how to play, and I didn't do enough homework beforehand. Even still, it's disheartening to learn that one small error can completely remove you from the game before it even starts. I'm so grateful I learned this early, or I might have just gone back to blue collar work (not that there's anything wrong with that).
I have since done some digging, and found an amazing (and famous) reddit post with an excellent format to use, which I filled in this morning. It's looking pretty good, and I'm hitting the old application trail here soon. It's pretty boring, and I wish I could spruce it up, but it certainly looks like it works.
That's it, /rant. This is why I cringe when I list graphic design as one of my skills.