How To Get A Job In Tech: Resume (1/4)

A ready to go resume is your most powerful way to get interviews.

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Let’s get something straight. This article is for people who cannot drop-names in their resume. (Because if you did, you wouldn’t need to read this article.) This blog is for someone like me, someone who went to a no-name school and never worked in a big-N before.

The resume is what lands you those interviews. So, let’s talk about what you can improve in your resume to make it more visible and attractive to recruiters.

Table Of Contents

  1. Example of how your resume travels around a big N
  2. Beating the Applicant tracking system(ATS)
  3. Getting past the 6-second recruiter screen.
  4. Getting past the engineering manager.


I’m going to give you an example of numbers on how your resume gets to the engineering manager.

On average, a Salesforce software engineering position gets about ~3000 applicants. (Online applications) Now that’s a considerable number.

  1. But what most applicants don’t realize is that 75% of those resumes are rejected by something called ATS (Applicant Tracking System), and this is taking the lower bound of percentages.
  2. Congratulations! Now you are one of the 750 people whose resume has made it to a human. The recruiter. Now it’s time for the infamous six-second-resume-scan. The recruiter, on average, will spend about 6-10 seconds on a resume scanning for keywords and will further narrow the applicant trail down to 100-150 applicants. That’s another 20% decrease in applicants.
  3. These 100-150 applicants are given some kind of coding challenge/behavioral interview, which lessens the applicants down to 50.
  4. The next step would be another screen, which could be technical/behavioral, which should reduce the candidate pool to 10-15.
  5. The engineering manager then decides if you should be called onsite. If you have come onsite, there are about 5-7 more interviews before you get the offer.

Nervous? You shouldn’t be. The Bay Area is known for its competitive hiring and companies to use the strategy of rejecting talented people if that means avoiding hiring false positives.

There is a lot of randomness in the process. The recruiter might be busy or just about to go on lunch and might throw away your resume. The ATS might incorrectly read some experience that you thought will come up etc.

We just want to do our best to minimize the randomness.

Tips To Make Your Resume Stand Out

1. ATS Scanner

Most (if not all) tech companies in the valley use an ATS scanner in-order to parse applicants’ resumes.

Long story short, An Applicant Tracking System or ATS for short - is a software that is used by recruiters/recruiting agencies to collect, sort, parse, and rank prospective job-seekers according to open positions. You might be asking why companies use this fand; this might seem unfair. Well, the truth is that Fortune 500 companies receive way too many applicants to be sorted by humans. Therefore, if ATS weren’t used, hiring pipelines would get clogged up, which in turn would make hiring slower.

So whether we like it or not, the ATS is here to stay.

I. Basics Of How ATS Works

The ATS parses a resume’s content into categories and then scans those categories for specific keywords that have been predetermined and then rank the resume. If there was A X % match, then the resume is passed on to the recruiter.

So this only means that the ATS is designed to weed out the least-qualified applicants as opposed to identifying which candidates are the best.

This, as you may have guessed, also weeds out the best candidates who don’t have the right words in their resume. If this is one of you and you have received tons of rejections, it’s not your fault.

II. Beating ATS

So here is where resumes go wrong. (stats according to TopResume)

  1. 25% of applicants have buried contact information in the header.
  2. 43% of applicants are submitted with an incompatible file type.
  3. 21% of applicants use graphics or charts which are unparsable.
  4. People use fancy templates that are also unparsable.

Contrary to popular belief, PDF is not the most ATS-friendly file type. While PDFs do a phenomenal job at preserving the design, style, and format of your resume, not all ATS support PDFs. So, unless the file type listed is pdf stick to using .doc or .docx. .txt file types are the best for ATS parsing but limit your options for style and design.

II(a) Optimize with the right keywords

One of the best ways to beat ATS is to use the right words in your resume. A lot of times, you might think that using words like “attention to detail,” “proactive,” etc. may seem like fluff or too much, but if it’s in the job-description, unfortunately, it might have been added to ATS. So to play it safe, you can add it to the soft-skills part of your resume. No one is going to judge you for adding those words so better safe than sorry!

An excellent website for this is, which has an ATS parser for anyone who wants to use it. It also provides unique metrics such as what experiences it found, skills found, etc. You can just paste the job description in one box and your resume in another and Voila! You have your results ready.

Be sure to tinker with the application and optimize your resume as needed by the job you are applying for.

2. Getting Your Resume Past The Recruiter

The recruiter is the human version of ATS, who also scans your resume for keywords and hands the resumes, which passes the screen over to the hiring manager.

The recruiter looks explicitly for one thing: TECHNICAL BUZZWORDS. (Note: This is not only valid for online apps but career fairs as well something we will discuss in part 2.)

Now, what are technical buzzwords? Haven’t you already passed the ATS scan? The recruiter wants to see if you are fit for the job. The recruiter will do an initial scan of your resume and try to find experiences in FAANG or other BIG-N companies.

Now, I will go to the skills section of your resume and try to find the predetermined technical skills that are required for the job.

For Example, if your job posting says:

We use the MERN stack and AWS.

Make sure that you have the keyword “MERN stack” in your resume, as well as MongoDB, React.js, Node, and Express.js. The recruiters are not technical people. They are like a pattern matching algorithm who make a binary decision based on what skills they see.

Recruiters are also known for discarding resumes for things that you and I think are irrelevant to whether or not you are qualified to do your job. Unfortunately, it happens, and here are some things to avoid.

  1. 78% of resumes are discarded for an unprofessional email address!
  2. 88% of resumes are rejected if they include a photo.
  3. They spend 80% of the time on past-companies and skills (A WHOLE 4.8seconds!)

Conclusions: Make sure that you have the right skills listed in your resume, have a professional email id, no pictures, etc.

3. Getting Your Resume Approved By The Hiring Manager

Now, this is the most critical part. You’ve made it this far, and this decision breaks or makes the interview.

The engineering managers are looking for the following skills: ATTITUDE, APTITUDE AND CHEMISTRY

  1. Attitude: Do you have the right attitude for this job? Do you really want to work here? Are you going to be a good fit?
  2. Aptitude: Do you have the skills to do the job? Do you have previous experience: Projects, Internships etc? This is usually resolved by using remote tests, hackerrank or some-other tool. While your Aptitude is not the biggest reason for hiring, you have to be good at what you say you’re good at.
  3. Chemistry: Managers are very BIG on communication skills. It makes sense they have to manage a group of people, and they want to see whether or not you have the technical chops but the communication skills as well. They also want to see whether you can gel with other team members because if you’re an excellent developer but an ass in general you will do the company more harm than good.

In the valley, technical experience is, fortunately(unfortunately) found everywhere. Every other coder has worked someplace, knows X stack, etc. How do you differentiate yourself? Be excellent at soft-skills. Technical skills are important, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the soft skills that help you stand out from the crowd.

Now What?

You made it! A quick recap of what we did:

  • Introduced ATS and how do we beat it
  • Looked at what keywords are suitable for your resume.
  • Understood what doesn’t work in your resume.
  • Looked at what it takes to get your resume past the recruiter and engineering manager.

There’s still much more reading to do:

I may write about these topics or similar ones in the future, so subscribe if you want to get notified about new posts.

Thanks for reading!

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