Shifting power back to job applicants

Jul 28, 2023

Written by Ian Lasky

I'm working on a tool that creates tailored resumes to put power back in the hands of the applicants. It's called Resgen and is a directed effort to help applicants improve their ability to receive job interviews.

Employers have massive amounts invested in ATSs (applicant tracking systems) that score resumes based upon how well they fit the job description. While this may simplify the review process for the recruiter, the job seeker is left wondering if an actual human ever read their resume. More likely than not, they end up receiving an email starting with "Thank you for your interest, but..."

This is no small problem. Over 6 million people were hired for new jobs in May. That means that there were at least 6 million people looking for new positions during that time. Most of those applicants needed to create or update a resume with their experiences, submit it for the job, have it ingested by the ATS, and reviewed by the hiring manager and/or recruiter.

In the next few sections, I'll detail why I think there need to be more tools that help level the playing field for job applicants.

Common resume advice is very manual

There are a lot of resources on how to beat the ATS. The advice usually highlights incorporating keywords that are in the job description and rephrasing / swapping out experiences that better fit the job description. It's good advice, but it takes a while because of how manually intensive it is.

In practice, creating custom resumes starts out well with ~10 resumes getting customized, but then it becomes laborious, especially if the responses to those resumes turn into rejections. Then the "shotgun" method of applying with the same resume takes over, which results in a sub-optimal resume going out to the ATS/recruiter.

Thousands of resume writer jobs exist solely to beat these ATS systems. However, to be discussed later, hiring these writers can be cost-prohibitive for a lot of job applicants.

To break out of this cycle of customizing resumes manually, then shotgunning apps when they aren't working anymore, we should focus on building tools that take our experiences and tunes them for the job application at hand. Not only would this drastically reduce the mental load of customizing each application, but it would also help frame each applicant's experience in the most desirable way to land an interview.

Not everyone can afford to customize their resume

Tailoring resumes is expensive. Not just monetarily it also takes a ton of time. But let's talk money first: resume writing services can cost from $200-$1000+. That's quite a chunk of change for a good amount of people and can pretty much be a non-starter for many. For those that do opt to use these services, it is for a single resume; three resumes for three different job titles could cost as much as a month of rent.

For those that choose to not use a resume writing service, they will do it by themselves, maybe having some friends look over their resumes for feedback. However, this is expensive too (at least in terms of time and maybe a few beers in return).

It takes time to do all this. That time is on top of an existing job, cooking, cleaning, exercising, etc., not to mention that your friends also have lives and might take some time to get back to you with feedback. It's mentally taxing to start editing a resume at 8 P.M. after a full day's work, trying to figure out how Senior Software Engineering experience at Company A applies to Company B.

The default after all this would be to leave the resume as-is and just apply with the same one over and over. There's a need for a tool that tailors resumes with the same quality of a resume writing service but doesn't break the bank in the process.

"Resume style" writing is unnatural

Writing a resume is a great way to distill what you've done, but the writing style is rather unnatural. It's dense and can easily miss nuance that would be present in a more free-flowing style.

You shouldn't have to figure out which of the 185+ action verbs to start your bullets point with or the best way to weave in the fact you increased sales by 16% last quarter you should focus on just talking about your experiences naturally. Writing a resume is akin to translating languages: instead of spending years learning to write in Spanish (unless it's for fun), use a translator.

It's damn competitive out there

Anyone that's applying for jobs nowadays knows how intimidating it is seeing hundreds of others applying for the same positions just an hour or two after posting.

Once an applicant is through the ATS system, then it is about making sure to the recruiter (the human in the loop), also approves of your resume. This is where presenting yourself in the best light with respect to the job description is key. You could have a great, sparkly resume, but if the experience does not agree with what they're hiring for it'll be tossed aside.

Tooling to make resumes tailored for every single job are critical to making sure that the recruiters perk up when reading them.

What tools exist to help the application process?

The first class of products help with the application process, mostly filling in details like name, number, and answers for visa and citizenship. is one of these classes of products.

The next class of products help rewrite and format your resume, mostly line by line, rather than all at once. Open-resume is an open-source resume builder and parser. Resumatic and Rezi are resume builders that rewrite bullet points.

The last class automate most of the work of customizing your resumes for you and gets out of your way. This is where Resgen comes into play. Resgen is a tool that:

  1. Is easy to setup and doesn't need additional fiddling
  2. Works on sites where you apply to jobs
  3. Creates custom resumes for every single job
  4. Keeps track of resumes for interviews
  5. Doesn't break the bank

Give Resgen a try

Resgen was built out of a need to find a job of my own and I want to provide the tool to others. It's not perfect, but I am improving it every day thanks to the wonderful feedback of the people using it.

Register for an account and give Resgen a shot let's work together to land more interviews.