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?