Original article, published in the Tampa Bay Times
How resume optimization can work for you
Optimization is the action of making the most effective use of a resource. Let’s be honest: Google is magic. Enter a few keywords and, TADA, it returns a list of local bakeries that deliver your favorite cupcakes. The truth is it’s not really magic. Those bakeries likely had content containing keywords on their website. Google algorithms sliced and diced the internet and returned the most relevant results to you. Resume optimization can provide the same benefit to help you get found.
You’ve probably heard of optimization before, most likely in the context of search engine optimization (SEO). The trick many job seekers are missing is creating a resume that includes keywords that will optimize their changes of being found. When you apply to a job and upload your resume, you’re instantly put in a database. In today’s fast-paced, digital environment, companies will scour those databases daily to look for someone just like you. Essentially, your resume has the potential to work for you while you’re away. Those databases are also resume search engines which recruiters will enter keywords into for the role they need to fill. Will they find you? If you use resume optimization techniques, absolutely. Here are some useful tips to help you start.
Research Job Descriptions
Set time aside to search for jobs you wish to apply for and take notes. How is the title of the position phrased, and are there variations? What are the requirements in the job description? Do they list nice-to-have skills? Specific software experience? Project types or industry markets that you have a background in? Industrial, Financial, e-commerce, etc. Pay close attention to words and phrases that are frequently shown in job postings.
Take your research and then carefully examine each section of your resume’s work history. Are those keywords and phrases included? Incorporate a combination of them throughout the body of your resume where applicable. Are you a nurse? Include RN, registered nurse and other keywords commonly used to help identify you. Are you a bookkeeper? Be sure to include keywords such as A/P, A/R, general ledger, payroll, and software programs, like QuickBooks or Great Plains, that can help locate you. Imagine yourself as the recruiter; how would you search for a professional like yourself?
Relevancy is Important
Resume optimization is not a one-size-fits-all process, but the keywords used should always define the job you want. Place emphasis on past positions with specific keywords and skills that are relevant to the opportunity you’re applying for. The most recent position is relevant to the job your applying for, and found at the top of your resume. Adding job titles in your work history can also boost relevancy score. For example, if you were a Registered Nurse, include that as your job title along with the company name and dates of employment.
Replace your Career Objective
The career objective can become generic if not done properly. Instead, try a skill summary or a bullet list as an introduction. Make it easy for the hiring manager to see who you are right away, and what you can bring to the table.
Keep it Simple
Leave out images and graphics. For creative fields, many might disagree. But the simple fact is that resume databases can’t interpret fancy backgrounds and borders. What these databases are looking for is text, which is why keywords are so important. Instead of graphics, add an additional sheet with work samples, or include a link to an online portfolio.
Include your Contact Information
Make sure your name, current phone number and email is at the top. Also include your city, state and zip code. Resume databases are almost always searched by proximity. You can even add a link to your LinkedIn profile. You really shouldn’t include your references. Save that for after the interview.
For the Love of Cupcakes: Spell-Check!
Spell-check and proofread! The database may miss keywords that are misspelled. It’s also a terrible first impression and your credibility will suffer.
Upload and Preview
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received a tax form or other personal document accidentally uploaded. Preview the document, and make sure it uploaded properly and it’s the correct one.
A resume holds the power to persuade and influence hiring managers to look at YOU among the sea of resumes they come across daily. You know the old saying “when opportunity knocks”. Well, you don’t want to see your opportunities knock on someone else’s door. I hope these tips help you gain more traction in your job search.