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Using Keywords to Snag an Interview

If you’re thinking about dusting off your resume and starting a job search, now is the time to make sure that your resume clearly describes you and the value you are offering to your desired employer. If your resume resembles the one you used 10 years ago, change it. Now, don’t fall off your chair when I say these next words.

You need to change your resume for each job.
It shouldn’t be time consuming and really isn’t that hard.

The goal of the resume is to get the recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager to want to learn more about you. Visually it has to be appealing and needs to stand out from the competition, which could be 100 or more resumes. Recruiters spend about 6 seconds on a resume unless something entices them to learn more. Sometimes recruiters don’t really understand the details and complexities of the job well, so make it very easy for them to see how you match the qualifications of the job.

The more I work with my career coaching clients, the more I hear this sentiment of helplessness.

“I clicked ‘submit’ and my resume went off into the black hole of the internet. I’ve lost all control and now my fate is determined by a computer. I never seem to make the cut and then end up getting a computer-generated rejection letter.”

The good news is that you do have some control, but most of it is before you even apply by crafting a well-written resume. You can make your resume stand out to a person reading it or an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Most ATS’s don’t kick out a whole lot of resumes; generally, a person is still reviewing them, albeit they may only allot 6 seconds per resume. But whether it’s a computer or a person, they are both looking for a match between you and the job description. It doesn’t matter if you can do the job or not. Does the resume SHOW them that you have done it and can do it? Keywords can help with this. Make sure that the words and concepts that seem important in their job posting are prevalent in your resume.

If a company asks for experience in talent acquisition, take the time to change your resume to match. If you said that you have experience in recruiting, change that word to talent acquisition. If they ask for database analytics and you listed that you have experience in Access, is it clear to a recruiter that you have the breadth and depth of experience that they need? It takes 5-10 minutes to customize your resume to a job posting. Don’t inflate your capabilities, but make the recruiter’s job easy by showing how you are a great fit. Without totally plagiarizing the ad, incorporate the keywords that they used into your resume.

Keywords can work regarding a culture fit too. If they are looking for a servant leader, does your resume show your passion for people and talent management or your dedication to process improvement and budget management? Not to suggest that you can’t be dedicated to the budget and be a servant leader, but step back and see if the themes in a job posting are themes that show up in your resume.

Here are some simple steps to follow:

1. Keep your resume easy to read.

  • Aim for one page.
  • Think Twitter. Say what is necessary and no more.

2. Highlight the keywords that seem important in the job posting.

  • Are those words on your resume? If so, how often do they appear?
  • Consider bolding them on your resume.

3. What seems important to them regarding character or personality?

  • Does your resume communicate those same characteristics?
  • A summary statement at the top is a great place for this.

4. Are the qualifications they’re seeking clearly stated on your resume?

  • Will they see them in the top third of your resume?
  • Use the summary and skills or expertise sections as the places you modify for each job.

If you are applying for jobs but not getting interviews, your resume may need a redo. See a professional resume writer or seek feedback from someone you know who does hiring. At Purple Ink, we are happy to use our expertise to help you craft a resume that will make a great first impression and stand out from the competition. Contact us for more information!

Peggy Hogan
Peggy Hogan
Peggy is the Manager of Career Transition Services at Purple Ink. Peggy enjoys connecting the right person to the right place, whether she’s career coaching, recruiting or working on-site with a client. She is motivated to help create positive workspaces by offering creative solutions to problems in the workplace, resulting in reduced turnover, higher employee engagement and increased productivity.

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