Monday, May 9, 2011

Resumes: Words You MUST Include

 These days most companies are using applicant-tracking software (ATS) to screen and accept resumes. Employers' use and eventual dependence on keywords to find the job candidates they want to interview has come about in recent years because of technology. Inundated by resumes from job seekers, employers have increasingly relied on digitizing job-seeker resumes, placing those resumes in keyword-searchable databases, and using software to search those databases for specific keywords that relate to job vacancies. Most Fortune 1000 companies, in fact, and many smaller companies now use these technologies.  The bottom line is that if you apply for a job with a company that searches databases for keywords, and your resume doesn't have the keywords the company seeks for the person who fills that job, your resume probably won’t get seen.

But imagine there was a way to encode your resume with those magical keywords that would virtually ensure that employers would be interested in interviewing you. But the catch is that there's a different set of magic words for every job, and you have no way of knowing what the words are.
  • First, in the vast majority of cases, they are nouns. Job seekers have long been taught to emphasize action verbs in their job-search correspondence, and that advice is still valid. But the "what" that you performed the action in relation to is now just as important. Examples would include: special events, distribution control, cost management, campaigns, etc.
  • Use keywords throughout your resume. In the beginning, it was suggested that you should only put keywords in the very beginning of your resume, it is still good to do this, but keywords should also be throughout your resume.
  • Since you also don't know the exact form of a keyword that the employer will use as a search criterion, it makes sense to also use synonyms, various forms of your keywords, and both the spelled-out and acronym versions of common terms.
  • A good goal is to shoot for 25-35 keywords, so if you have fewer than that currently, try to beef up every section of your resume with keywords, varying the forms of the words you choose.
  • Use keywords in your cover letters, too. Many employers don't scan cover letters or include them in resume databases, but some do.
  • Lastly, some job boards have a feature that enables you to see how many times the resume you've posted has been searched. If your resume hasn't been searched very many times, odds are that you lack the right keywords for the kinds of jobs you want.
Getting the right keywords to be displayed on your resume might seem like a bit of a challenge at first, but by reviewing the job postings you're interested in and observing the keywords they use in the job postings, you should be able to get a good sense of the type of keywords and language to use on your resume. Just make sure that those words on the job description actually apply to your personal experience and the skills you would bring to the table!!

Make today a great day! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! This has been very helpful and I am now rewriting my resume.