Greetings to all,
Depending on which survey results you prescribe to, the success rate for finding a job online is between 8-20%. Those are not impressive numbers compared to networking, gaining inside referrals, and contacting hiring managers directly. However, job candidates do find jobs on the Internet, and if you are going to employ the technology, you must know how to maximize your success rate.
In the movie, The Graduate” the keyword was “plastics.” In online job search, the keyword is….well, “keywords.” Keywords are nouns and noun phrases that describe you professionally. They are nouns generally associated with an industry, profession or job function. If you are going to post your resume to job boards, company websites, keywords are critical to gaining visibility.
Today, many employers are employing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen, sort and rank candidate resumes. In order to screen thousands of qualified candidates, an internal recruiter or hiring manager, using OCR or ATS software, will create search criteria, keywords to select resumes from hundreds to thousands of candidates in a company’s database.
Keywords are words we use in our day-to-day work and academic life but often take for granted. They are:
- Transferable skills: communication, leadership, planning, team building, mentoring, critical thinking, consulting, editing
- Job specific skills: financial analysis, internal audits, script writing, union relations, Sarbanes-Oxley, account management, risk assessment, GAAP
- Technical skills: SAP, systems architecture, programming, CAD/CAM
- Software: Excel, PowerPoint, Project Manager, Access, PhotoShop
- Job titles: VP Marketing, CFO, Director of Operations, Software Engineer
- Personal qualities: high-energy, visionary, results-oriented
- Education/degree: MBA, PhD, MS
- Certifications/licenses: CPA, MCSE, Series 7, RN, Series 65
- Quality programs: ISO 9000, TQM, Six Sigma, LEAN
- Industry jargon: Marcom, B2B, B2C, cradle-to-grave
- Languages: Spanish, German, Japanese, Mandarin
You already know many keywords through assessment tools and personality surveys. The best place, however, to find keywords is in job postings and position descriptions under the Qualifications or Requirements section. Look for descriptors in the job requisition that employers use to describe their ideal candidate. As long as they are truthful about you, create your own list. Open a new file in Word and call it Keywords. The list may contain 20 to 50 noun and noun phrases from the categories above.
You may say, “but my resume already contains many of these words.” Does it, however, contain enough to rank your resume high enough on an employer’s “hit list?” Of 20 keywords that a recruiter uses, he or she may only look at the candidate resumes that match 18 and more of the 20. We create a Skills Summary to ensure our resume exceeds a minimum threshold.
Every resume that you submit electronically, either to a major job board or an employer’s corporate website should, no MUST, contain a Skills Summary. Your Skills Summary is a customized collection of those noun and noun phrases that match the requirements for the position for which you are applying, from your saved keyword list mentioned earlier. You merely create a string of words separated by commas. Your Skills Summary may contain as many as 10 to 15 word and word phrases.
If you have previously submitted resumes without a Skills Summary, fear not! You now have a golden opportunity to revise, refresh or resubmit existing resumes by adding the Skills Summary. I wouldn’t be surprised if you begin to see interest almost immediately based on the new visibility that keywords have generated.
Give your resume a fresh start,
by Mike Brown, Director of MBA Career Services