We’ve said a lot recently about the use of keywords by recruiting professionals when it comes to locating the best and brightest talent for mission-critical positions. The rationale is simple. If you’re in the business of appearing in searches you want to be sure that your listings have the keywords to help you be seen.
It only makes sense, then, that the same logic would apply to would-be employees looking to get their resume out there. To get the most exposure to recruiting professionals, hiring managers and more, applicants should ensure their keyword game is on point with a thorough review and update.
The Rise of ATS
In addition, many employers are increasingly relying on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan submitted resumes for relevant terms and phrases and then spit out a “percentage match” report. While great for employers and time savings, this automated system means that your next online application submitted resume most likely won’t be reviewed by an actual person. If the program doesn’t find the words it’s been asked to search for, your resume will quickly get filed in the “thanks but no thanks” category.
What’s in a Keyword
So now that we’ve sold you on the need for good keyword inclusion, let’s get down to the specifics for selecting the best terms. If you’re new to the keyword game, it may be a bit daunting at the outset. One of the easiest way to determine what should and should not (more on that later) be in your resume is to perform your own search. Starting by Googling your job title or performing a search for your position on a resume search site, such as Simply Hired. Peruse a variety of open or even archived positions in your specific field. Look for commonly used words and characteristics and be sure your resume matches up.
For example, a nurse practitioner position may require certifications or degrees or experience in specific billing or patient management portals. Include these terms on your resume if you have those specific abilities. The same logic should be applied to other industries as well. If your position consistently requires attention to detail or the ability to work long hours, for example, consider creating a skills section on your resume that lists those qualities to ensure the in person or ATS review of your resume flags you for potential follow up.
What to Leave Out
A quick note of follow up when it comes to keyword selection. Most effective resumes are limited to a single page of space. It pays, then, to make your word choice count. Inactive or undescriptive filler such as “worked”, “performed”, or “wrote”, aren’t going to get you flagged by any type of human or machine review and take up vital room for your real skills and abilities. Consider using industry and task-specific words whenever possible. When you must use verbs, be sure they’re active and powerful such as “managed”, “achieved” or “outperformed” in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.
When all else fails, ask your colleagues or industry peers if they’d mind sharing their successful resumes. It’s always good to hear what has worked for other professionals in your field and use that advice as a starting point for success. With that in mind, have keyword advice you’d like to share with other Simply Hired readers? Drop us a line in the comments below on your keyword best practices for interview resume optimization.