Well-informed job seekers know that companies typically screen resumes using software that searches for key words. That’s why your resume should be targeted/personalized for each job. Re-writing even a section of your resume can help scanning software (or Applicant Tracking Systems) mark your resume as one to review further.
I recently presented a webinar for The Career Summit about how to build a bridge to your next employer, and keywords (how to find them and how to USE them) play a huge role in paving the way to a new employer.
It is crucial for job seekers to identify the words that employers are using to look for them and to use those in their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter bios and Facebook bio.
You don’t want to waste any words on your resume. Earlier this week, I asked, “are you a job seeker or a French fry?,” making the point that job seekers need to select words carefully to be sure they make sense and will attract employers.
The best place to find keywords that are most relevant for your targeted organization is in job descriptions. Study job descriptions on job boards, via LinkedIn and any place that employers advertise opportunities. The descriptions don’t need to be for jobs you’d actually apply to do. For example, maybe the job is in Omaha, and you plan to stay in Miami. If the description itself is relevant to what you want to do, that information can be useful to inform your materials.
Review job descriptions and identify the nouns and noun phrases. (Remember from grade school — a noun is a person, place or thing.) Focus on being as specific as possible. For example, assistant (a noun) is not as specific as administrative assistant, or executive administrative assistant (noun phrases). Technical skills (including software), degrees and other specifics related to the job may all be keywords.
For example, a job description for a sales manager position for a fitness company includes the following keywords (among others):
- Personal sales,
- Model for team members,
- Weekend production,
- Sales Department Head,
- Sales team,
- College degree,
- Member adviser
One way to be sure you are targeting keywords is to highlight all of the keywords in a variety of similar job descriptions and then incorporate all of them into your resume. Include acronyms (for example IT) as well as complete words (information technology). You should probably have at least 25 targeted keywords or phrases included in your resume.
Some fun tools I suggested during the webinar to help you visualize your keywords are Wordle — (http://www.wordle.net/) and Tag Crowd (http://tagcrowd.com). The picture accompanying this post is a Wordle representation of that sales manager position description.
You can see in the Wordle that words such as team, success, sales, benefit and healthy are highlighted. (Yes, I know that healthy is an adjective!) That would suggest those words should appear (among the others) in your resume. The bigger the word appears in the word cloud, the more significant Wordle considers it. Consider creating a word cloud of your job descriptions and comparing it to one of your resume. It’s not scientific, but it does offer a visual way to identify if you are including the details you need to land the job.