Keyword Optimize Your Resume

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Applying for a job without knowing somebody at the company first often feels like a quixotic mission. You throw your resume into the faceless online job site grinder and hope a human being somewhere along the way recognizes your obvious talents and relevant life and work experience. Good luck with that, Don!

Here’s how to put keyword optimization to work getting your resume discovered.


Use “preferable” terms. This one comes from Pinny Cohen. Recruiters and HR people are bound to search on the most obvious or common terms when seeking out candidates to forward to a hiring manager. So how do you figure out what terms people might be looking for? Cohen mentions a page updated weekly by job site TheLadders.com, which lists the 100 top recruiter search words. Using these instead of more creative phrasing will help those recruiters find you.

Include a keyword summary. CareerPerfect advises that you add this at the beginning of a resume even if you’ve used keywords throughout for three reasons:

  • It lets you offer up variations on the keyword that may not fit elsewhere in the file.
  • The more keywords you have, the greater the keyword density, which can help your ranking.
  • You’re more likely to cover alternative keywords that might be used by the searcher.

The site advises separating keywords with commas or periods.

Integrate the keywords in a “Qualification Summary.” Pat Kendall of Advanced Resume Concepts says that search engines for job sites are becoming sophisticated enough to read keywords in context, and therefore they can figure out if your keywords are legitimate based on the text that surrounds them. Therefore, just providing a laundry list of keywords won’t necessarily be as effective as a summary statement that provides the human element.

She offers two examples. Here’s a sample of a non-“keyword loaded” summary:

Achievement-oriented with 15 years of successful experience and proven ability to meet objectives, communicate with clients, and quickly excel in new industries.

Here’s a “keyword-heavy” sample:

Achievement-oriented sales professional with 15 years of success in international trade and global marketing. Skilled in developing marketing programs, coordinating new product introductions and providing customer support. Proven track record in cold calling, new business development and key account management.

Use keywords inconsistently. As job-hunt.org reminds us, you don’t know if the recruiter will type in MA, Mass or Massachusetts, so cover all bases if that’s where you’re looking for work.

Get the top keywords into titles. As “Pimp Your Work” points out, the location of keywords within your resume is important. “For example, if the keyword is in your title, you’ll have a better chance of ranking high rather than if it were just in your profile body.”

Get keyword hints from the job listing itself. According to Monster.com “resume expert” Kim Isaacs, if you study the particular job listing, “you’ll be able to get into the mind of employers who literally spell out what they’re looking for.”

Here’s an example she provides:

Requirements: The qualified candidate will have a minimum of five years of human resource experience in a fast-paced environment with strong knowledge of benefits administration including medical, dental, life, 401(k) and COBRA. Proficiency in MS Office programs is required. Bachelor’s degree preferred.

What have you figured out about optimizing your resume?

14 Comments

Steven

Keyword presence on its own is not enough. More important is placement within the document itself. Resume search and screening tools are now so prevalent that unless it “passes” these then it’s unlikely your Resume will be read or will reach someone who will read it.

Small Business Website Design

I actually had a Client actually go as far as commission a website solely to act as an online CV. I guess he believes he can have more control over a website than a blog and as he wants to include video and a quite large photo gallery, he may well prove correct. Not a cheap option though.

Mike

Resume Design Service is one of the best professional organizations I have ever done business with. The staff coaches you in ways that help your career, and they do a great job of using their expert skills to write a professional resume for you. All you need to do is answer a few basic questions, and you end up getting a great resume or cover letter for a reasonable price.

(http://www.resumedesignservice.com)

James

Some considerations:
Cheap One-Way Links is correct, a keyword resume is helpful but not critical.

Research well-written thoroughly done resumes (as in Asher’s Executive Resumes) and you will find them naturally filled with keywords as well as being human friendly.

Cheap One-Way Links

Guys… you’re over-complicating this. Keyword resumes are fine for agencies and fortune500 companies.

Fact is, 90% of jobs can be had through networking and cold-calling. You just need to get over the fear of reaching out.

I’m speaking from experience here.

AG

The top search words list is rather fishy. Assuming it’s not put together by hand, it would seem that each of those terms has been searched for exactly once. Otherwise, anything even approaching a statistically significant sample should have weeded out the idiosyncratic capitalization and spacing. actuARY?

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