You're looking for a job. You can either take the "spray and pray" approach or you can make a "hit list" of companies you want to apply for. If you decide on the latter, it can be considerably time-consuming to do properly. If you customize your resume for each job and write a cover letter, you're looking at a pretty significant time commitment.
But what if it's all for nothing? How do you know if your resume even made it through the screening process? Typically you don't. What you do know is that hiring managers typically deal with hundreds of applicants.
Why should they look at your resume for longer than seven seconds?
Don't forget that sometimes your resume can also go through an initial screening through a person that is not the hiring manager, such as an assistant or HR manager. Don't give them a reason to not pass along your resume.
Here are a few tips for how to increase your chances of making it past the initial (human) screenings by doing the following:
1. ALWAYS check your spelling and grammar. This one might seem obvious, but you'd be shocked at how often it happens. Typos, strange sentence structure and formatting issues are a great way to give the reviewer a reason to stop looking at your resume and move onto the next.
2. Get rid of the fluff. This not only shortens your sentences, but it also gives you more credibility because you don't need to use fancy words or too many adjectives as filler. Your skills and achievements are enough to keep the reviewer engaged. Remember that you only have a few seconds to capture their attention.
3. Keep it to one page if possible. Hiring managers and/or reviewers simply don't have time, and two pages might be a turn off. Only highlight what you think they'll find relevant. Not all of your experience will be. So, unless you have 15 years of experience, there's no reason your resume should go beyond one page.
Links. This one doesn't help you get past the screening, but you can guarantee that hiring managers will look you up on LinkedIn and also want to review your code. Make it easy for them by providing a link to your Github and LinkedIn account (make sure your LinkedIn is up to date.)
Skills: If you're applying for an engineering job, make sure skills are easy to spot right away and are arranged in a way that clearly tells the reviewer that you have the technical skills to do the job.
Obviously there are many more considerations that go into determining if you're the right fit for the job, but you need to get past the initial human screening first.
Good luck on your job search!