For many, the term “keywords” probably reminds them of search engine optimization (“SEO”). For those unfamiliar with the term SEO, it is the process whereby websites and creators include certain words (aka the keywords) into their content so that people are directed to that content from Google or other search engines.
Basically, it is the reason Nike or Adidas show up when you search for basketball shoes or running shoes.
But did you know you can rely on the same SEO principles to direct traffic to your resume? Many recruiters rely on search-engine-like software, called applicant track systems (“ATS”), which quickly track resumes and screen candidates for particular jobs. Built into this software are query systems hiring teams use to filter candidates by job skills. Meaning, ATS can eliminate candidate resumes that fail to include the right keywords for the job at hand.
And so, just like a savvy content creator who knows how to optimize content so that it appears in search results, so too must job applicants optimize their resumes to catch the proverbial eye of ATS software, or the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, if they hope to earn themselves a job interview.
Here are three simple steps to help you use keywords in your resume to land a job interview.
1. Find the right keywords.
Before you can include keywords in your resume, you need to know what keywords you should include.
The best place to learn what keywords to include in your resume is the job description for the position you are applying for. Read the job description carefully and make note of which keywords the employer included in it. For example, is the position seeking someone with marketing experience in the tech industry? If so, then make note of both “market” and “tech industry” as keywords you should include in your resume. Or, if the position is for a logistics manager, the right keywords may include “supply chain”, “warehouse”, or “operations”.
Another great place to find keywords for your resume is the “About Us” page on a company’s site. This page often includes a description of the company itself, and the types of values and qualities it espouses. Once again, make note of keywords from this page and include those in your resume.
2. Weave the keywords into your resume.
The next step is to use the keywords and phrases you gleaned from the job or company descriptions, and place them directly into your resume so it is tailored to the specific job you are applying for.
But be careful. Search engines have gotten smarter over the years. They can tell when content creators are simply packing keywords in order to earn traffic. As a result, that content is often devalued. The same is true when it comes to resumes. It will not be enough to simply create a list of all the keywords you have identified and then add that list somewhere in your resume. Instead, you must organically work them into your resume.
Perhaps the best place to do this is within the short description you write under specific work or education experience. Another great spot for keywords is in a section dedicated to soft or hard skills.
3. Qualify your keywords.
If your prospective employer is using ATS software, then you may be rewarded for including specific keywords several times throughout your resume, just like a piece of content is rewarded online by search algorithms if it incorporates keywords throughout.
But remember, if it makes it past the computer, it will eventually reach the eyes of a recruiter or hiring manager. And if you are just haphazardly tossing in words, the hiring manager or recruiter will likely not give it a passing grade.
And so, as mentioned, its important to use keywords organically and provide context in support of the keywords you are using. Meaning, it is not enough to simply say you have marketing experience. You need to qualify that marketing experience with specific examples.
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