Searching through any number of the online career sites will turn up job after job that might be ideally suited for you. But you don’t usually get a phone number to call or an address to send a paper resume to. Instead you “submit” your online resume to the job posting and you wait…and wait…and wait. Here’s where the Internet job search breaks down for most job hunters. What’s actually happening at this point?
When a firm posts a job on the Internet that many people can qualify for (Java programmer, Sales Manager, etc.) they can receive hundreds even thousands of resumes in a day! The recruiter then has to shuffle and sort through those resumes to pick the ones that get further scrutiny. They generally use a keyword search to put some order to the resumes that have arrived. The better the match between the keywords that the recruiter is looking for and the keywords in the resume, the higher up on the possible interview list the resume moves. So how can you get your resume to move toward the top of the pile to get a chance at an interview?
Keywords! Or maybe I should say, nouns.
Back in the Keywords 101 article, I wrote about how to put keywords in a resume that you were making “public” on one of the search engines. These resumes are rather generic in that you don’t really know what the recruiter is looking for, so having a well-rounded resume with a large assortment of keywords makes your resume likely to match a wide variety of searches. But when you’re posting your resume in response to a particular job posting, your tactics need to be a bit more refined.
First, resign yourself to the fact that you may have 1 or 2 master resumes, but from this point forward you’ll have 1 additional resume for almost every job you respond to on the Internet. If you want your resume to be picked by the computer and read (and accepted) by the recruiter, it needs to scream “I am a perfect match for that job you’re looking to fill!”
Second, for each job you are going to apply for, you need to print the respective job posting and circle every noun or noun phrase– Oracle, Healthcare, Project Manager, Marketing Director, Certification, Ten Years, etc. Then review your resume and mark off each of the job description keywords you used at least twice. The keywords that you used once can probably be easily repeated somewhere else in your resume, so do it.
Third, the keywords that are in the job description that you did not mark out need to be reviewed. How many of these keywords can you easily add to your resume? Are some not directly applicable, but maybe close? You might have the talent needed for the job but not the exact product experience, so be creative. For example, if the job description calls for Oracle expertise but you have only used MySQL, maybe try something like, “Experienced MySQL programmer that can easily adapt to Oracle.” This gets the Oracle keyword in your resume — so it gets past the computer and the recruiter can make an informed decision on whether he’s willing to take a chance and ask you in for the interview.
Fourth, assuming you get past the computer selection, the human has to like the resume. So you need to revise your Summary statement and your Objective line to align with the job posting. Find what you think are key phrases in the job description and try to put them into your Summary section as close to word-for-word as feasible. What you want to do is to get the section of your resume that’s above-the-fold to be a very close match to the job posting. Remember that many recruiters don’t have the technical expertise to effectively evaluate very technical resumes, so the closer your resume sounds like the job posting, the better the chance you get past the recruiter.
Finally, don’t just cram the keywords into the resume. Recruiters and the computers have gotten wise to this strategy. Take time to weave the words and phrases into your various resume sections to make it interesting for the human but also increase the matching capability of the computer searches.
Bottom Line: You need a high word-for-word match between your resume and the job description — keywords for the computer and comparable phrases for the human. Identify every keyword from the job posting that you can possibly include in your resume and weave them into the Objective line, the Summary section and also the relevant job history sections.
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See the Index of all my Job Hunter articles on my Backlog tab.
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