Fine tune for keyword hitsIf you expect to get past these electronic gatekeepers, you'll have to make small modifications to your resume to ensure the applicant tracking system identifies your resume for further inspection.
It's especially important if you think you have skill sets that translate into an industry that's different from your employment background.
That doesn't mean you need to create entirely new documents every time you apply to a job posting, but you will have to make small adjustments to your resume, Johnson says.
For example, when you find a job that you're interested in, print out the job posting and highlight the key words.
"Many times you'll look at them and you'll say to yourself, 'I've done these things' or 'I can do these things,'" Johnson says. "You want to make sure that those skills are actually reflected in the same language in your resume."
Next, tweak your resume so it contains keywords that correspond with the description in the job posting, especially if it's industry jargon. The tracking system likely will be looking for those keywords.
Examples of keywords include spreadsheets, accounts receivable, information technology, management, payroll or supervisor.
"The more keywords that you have in your resume that match the job posting, the greater likelihood that your resume is going to be flagged for a recruiter to actually look at," Johnson says. "And that's what you're hoping for, a human to look at your resume."
Recent grads: Focus on college highlightsOnce you finally do get a set of eyes to look at your resume, you'll want to avoid causing them to glaze over because your resume is either too long, too difficult to read or it doesn't highlight your accomplishments up front.
For example, newly minted college grads typically have thin files, so they should limit their resumes to one page and play up skills learned at internships, part-time work and campus leadership positions.
Remember, the recruiter really isn't interested in reading about every pizza delivery gig you had while attending state college unless you gained some extraordinary experience from it or were promoted to management.
It's a good idea to state in your resume how you plan to apply your college education rather than to merely state that your objective is "to secure an entry-level position," says Susan Whitcomb, author of "Resume Magic" and president of Career Coach Academy in Fresno, Calif.
"Put a target statement first," she says. "Say you are targeting analyst positions in venture-capital firms, for example. (It can be) just something simple like that, that's straightforward and doesn't have a lot of fluff."
Try to flesh out the college experience by listing a strong grade-point average and specific projects in classes that were relevant to the target statement, and go into detail about them, Whitcomb says.