Chances are, as a job seeker, you’ve hit the ‘send’ or ‘submit’ button to apply for a job opening and then spent days waiting for a call back that never came, leaving you to wonder if your resume was swallowed up by the Cyberspace void or actually seen and rejected by a real live person.
Whichever is the case, you can be left disappointed and discouraged, feeling like you’re moving further away from being gainfully employed. Don’t despair, however! There is a way to convey the right message to recruiters and hiring managers and get their attention. Resume keywords can help you impress potential employers and land you an interview.
What are keywords and where can you find them?
Keywords are specific, predetermined words and phrases that employers use to search through resumes and find qualified candidates. The more keywords job seekers use in their resumes, the more likely they are to make the employer’s shortlist.
The most relevant keywords can be found directly in the job ad itself and in ads for similar positions. It’s a good idea to compare at least a dozen other job posts to establish a solid, reliable list of keywords. Generally, you should consider things like required degrees, job titles, software proficiency, language skills, industry terms, and technical specifications as potential keywords.
It seems logical that using the right terms in your resume will have a positive impact on your application to a job vacancy. But how exactly do keywords work?
Resume Keywords Can Help Beat the Bots
A multitude of businesses – small and large – depend on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter through resumes and ‘thin the herd’, so to speak. This technology scans resumes for the keywords or phrases the employer has determined and assigns scores based on context and relevance, subsequently narrowing down the list of candidates to the most qualified.
In order to ensure you score well, make sure you use the keywords throughout your resume and not just at the beginning. It’s also a good idea to use any acronyms as well as the complete keyword whenever possible. For example, if one of the keywords is ‘search engine optimization’, be sure to include SEO too.
The most important piece of advice, though, is this: don’t overload your resume with so many keywords that they lose all relevancy! Many ATS programs are technologically advanced enough to spot the lack of context and will send you to the discard pile as a result.
Resume Keywords Can Help Reach Recruiters
Even if a company doesn’t use ATS, the volume of candidates usually received for any opening pretty much guarantees that the HR person will not have the time to read every word of every applicant. In fact, one study found recruiters only spent 6 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding whether or not the candidate was qualified!
Make it easy for them to find the skills they’re looking for. Rather than using big blocks of text, keep things succinct with lots of white space, use bullet points and an easy to read font like Arial or Calibri. Leading your resume with a Qualifications and Skills section lets the employer quickly find the key points that let them know you’re the right person for the job.
Regardless of a company’s selection process methods, optimizing your resume with keywords can help you move out of the void and into a face-to-face meeting!