Those in the Web business know that
optimizing a site page is essential to getting it on the search-results lists
of major search engines like Google. Nowadays, with the combined impact of
online resume-posting and the increasingly prevalent use of scanning
technology, even by small companies, the same principle applies to your resume:
optimization is essential!
When resume-scanning software first
hit the job market, it wasn't very sophisticated. Keyword summaries were placed
at the top of ascii or text resumes to ensure that
they were picked up by the somewhat rudimentary software. Similarly, formatting
was minimized for fear that it would interfere with the scan.
Nowadays, these rules no longer
Modern scanning software has come a
long way and can recognize text in boldface, italics, designer fonts, and
bullets. Furthermore, it can scan for keywords throughout your resume, not just
in an assigned area. For that reason, a well-crafted "normal" resume
can in fact be an optimized keyword resume that's poised to get noticed when
electronic filters stand between you and a hiring manager.
The Importance of the Right Resume Keywords
It may be daunting to realize that
your success in scoring an interview could hinge on a few carefully selected
resume keywords, but with keyword-based scanning, this is the case. Employers
who use this technology (up to 80 percent of them, by some counts) determine a
set of mandatory keywords that reflect the duties of a given job. For
example, an accountant's resume keywords would be 'general ledger', 'AP/AR',
payroll, 'reconciliations', etc.
Based on the number of
"hits" your resume achieves when it is scanned, your resume will be
ranked and submitted to a hiring manager for further review…or not. So how do
you determine the appropriate keywords?
Finding Your Golden Keywords
Finding the right resume keywords
takes a little work, but it's completely achievable. If you're applying for a
particular position, a great place to start would be the job listing — but be
careful. A hiring manager is savvy enough to detect when their own listing is
being regurgitated back to them. That said, the clever use of words that speak
to their requirements is always appropriate, as long as it aligns with your
If you're conducting a broader
search by posting your resume on an online job board like HotJobs.com, then
your resume will be seen by multiple potential employers. How do you then
choose the right keywords? Consider how your goals align with your experience.
For any resume, the trick is to use what you've accomplished to paint a picture
of what you want to do next.
You can determine the keywords most
likely to be on an employer's must-have list by:
Analyzing job postings that are in step with the
type of position you want to land.
Taking a look at the career listings of
employers in your target industry.
Remaining up-to-date on the latest buzzwords in
By optimizing your resume, your will
be able to successfully emerge from the resume-scanning process (or online job
search), while also creating a document that makes a compelling case for your