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Ditch the Acronyms!

by Melissa Small
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When you’re texting and messaging your contacts on social media sites it may be common practice to use short forms but these abbreviations in your resumes and cover letters can be part of why you’re not getting a message or invitation for an interview.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are database scanning software tools that are increasingly being used by employers. These tools help reduce the time needed to read and respond to the 500+ applications that may be received for just one active posting. So, let’s look at how to increase your suitability scores of these systems by reviewing some key tips of when you can cut corners to save on space, or to learn when it’s best to spell out each word clearly:

-Before using an acronym, ensure that you have listed the whole phrase in its entirety. This will avoid any confusion as some short forms can have multiple meanings and it will help ensure that you can count one of those prospective keywords to boost your suitability score for ATS scanners.

-If you plan to use a word that is part of the acronym for your sentence, you may benefit from spelling out the entire phrase. For example, if you are in “Customer Management Services” (CMS) or a “Project Management Professional” (PMP) there is no benefit in repeating the word service or professional after the use of this acronym.

-Know the industry for the acronyms: your last employer may have abbreviated things as their common place language but others in your field may not use those same acronyms. Therefore, it’s important to do your research to ensure that these will be easily recognized by your future employers’ review of your application. There are some common acronyms that are acceptable such as WHMIS instead of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, MS instead of Microsoft, wpm instead of words per minute – but balance the decision of space and commonality for your field to determine the best choice.

-Look at what you have space for when listing your education. If you have Bachelor’s or Masters post-secondary level studies completed, you can reduce it to read as a BA for Bachelor of Arts or MBA for Master’s in Business Administration instead.

Resumes and cover letters can be challenging! There are often no right or wrong ways to approach these, but a second set of eyes can be helpful. A standout resume and cover letter can be the stepping stones to the next challenge of job searching, the interview. Feel free to reach out if we can help you through any of these steps!