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Resume Writing Resources and Tips: Leveraging Keywords to Get Your Resume the Attention it Deserves

Blog_shot_75x75By Lisa Peyton

Unless you’ve been totally off the grid over the past several years, chances are you’ve at least heard the buzz about keywords. With the rapid growth of web technologies, keywords have become more important than ever. The simple fact is that if you want to find something or be found on-line, you have to know what group of words to enter into that search box. The same holds true when it comes to top employers or recruiters coming across your resume. Whether they’re sourcing your information from the web or an off-line database, keyword searches are the primary tool they use to sift through the thousands of resumes available.

Monster.com–the largest on-line job board and resume database– and other on-line resume sources offer several ways employers can search through resumes. These prominently include the resume’s received date and specific keywords appearing throughout the entire submission process—not simply those keywords found in the body of your completed resume. Any serious job seeker would be wise to regularly dust off their on-line resume, keeping keywords and content fresh, with relevant keywords always in mind when completing every field during the submittal process. It’s important to remember that submitting a keyword optimized resume is just the first step in the process of landing that perfect job. Nonetheless, it’s a vital one if you even want to be considered.

Monster resume search box

(Screenshot from the Employer’s Resume Search section at Monster.com)

Identifying Desirable Keywords

So now you’re ready to dig in and find those “magic” words that will get you noticed by your ideal employer and add them to your resume. It’s never a good idea to misrepresent your skills, but it is important to make sure that you’re using the same verbiage employers are using to define your skill set. Simple things like using the plural form of a word or using an industry wide acronym can keep your resume out of the running unless the employer or recruiter uses that exact same search phrase.
There are several lists available with suggestions of where to find the best keywords for your particular industry,
Quintcareers.com’s article “Resources for Identifying Resume Keywords” (http://www.quintcareers.com/identifying_resume_keywords.html)
offers quite an exhaustive list with several creative suggestions. Here’s a brief list of the top sources to get you started:

Job Postings – Search out job listings for positions similar to what you’re looking for. Monster.com is a free resource for job seekers and can source hundreds of jobs to pull keywords from.

Job Descriptions – Find on-line job descriptions for the position you’re seeking. Typically they are great repositories of desired skills and competencies for any given job title.

Articles and News Stories – Research the latest industry news–specifically searching out anything from the employer’s viewpoint.

On-line Keyword Tools – For those of you that really enjoy data and research, you may want to take the time to check out some tools that are specifically designed to find and analyze phrases that users are searching for. Keyword Discovery offers a free keyword tool – http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html and Google has an analytical tool that will allow you to compare and contrast two separate phrases and spot trending within your given industry. Google Trends – http://www.google.com/trends.

Adding Keywords to Your Resume

The next step involves integrating all these great keywords in to your resume. While I wouldn’t suggest doing anything as blatant as adding a “Keyword” section to your resume, there are ways to include lists or summaries that include the keywords while engaging the reader at the same time. By using headers like “Summary of Qualifications”, “Areas of Expertise,” and “Professional Profile,” you create a handy list of the keyword skill phrases as well as brief explanations of how you’ve demonstrated these skills in the workplace.

Areas of expertise section clipped from resume

Free sample resumes can act as a good template. The keyword rich section above was taken from a PDF found at Resumesandcoverletters.com (http://www.resumesandcoverletters.com/Corinthian_Chrono_Resume.pdf ).
Here are some other tips to keep in mind while optimizing your resume:

• Keep important phrases near the top of your document where they are more likely to be noticed and given more weight.

• Sprinkle the keywords throughout your resume and try to use important phrases multiple times as keyword density is often considered when indexing documents.

• Be sure to use synonyms, plural and non-plural variations, and both acronyms and spelled out versions of all of your phrases.

Giving your Resume a Check-Up

Whether you’re planning on making your information key-word friendly or you’ve always understood the importance of keywords, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the final draft of your resume. Katherine Hansen offers up a great suggestion in her article, “Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness” (http://www.quintcareers.com/resume_keywords.html )
“To determine the keyword health of your current resume, highlight all the words in it that, based on your research of ideal positions in your field, would probably be considered keywords. Electronic resume guru Rebecca Smith says a good goal to shoot for is 25-35 keywords, so if you have fewer than that currently, try to beef up every section of your resume with keywords, varying the forms of the words you choose.”

Resources

http://www.free-resume-tips.com/10tips.html – Resume writing – 10 tips to generate more interviews and higher salary offers

http://www.quintcareers.com/resume_keywords.html – Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness
http://www.quintcareers.com/researching_resume_keywords.html – Researching Keywords in Employment Ads

http://www.quintcareers.com/identifying_resume_keywords.html – Resources for Identifying Resume Keywords

[tags]resume writing resource, resume tips, keywords on resume, keyword research, seo, optimized resume, resume resources, optimal copy, lisa peyton[/tags]

  1. jsavvy

    Though you and others are getting the word out, I seldom have clients who are up to speed on the importance of keywords in their resume.

    And what about those who want to write his or her own resume?