In this tough economy, the competition for jobs is an all-time high. It’s not unlikely that when you submit your resume, it gets thrown in a stack of hundreds, even thousands, of other resumes. So, the question all job seekers should immediately ask themselves is “How do I stand out?”
One thing that many job seekers often do not understand is that many resumes go through a computing scanning process before they ever meet human eyes. What does the software looking at the resumes do? It basically plays a matching game. It looks at the words on your resume and matches them with a list of words relating to the position advertised. If you don’t have the right words on your resume, it will likely go the way of the Dodo bird.
The best way to find these key words is to look at the job description itself. A typical job listing will normally have the following sections: summary, duties, minimum qualifications and preferred qualifications. Each one of these sections is rife with keywords. It’s your job to identify them, see which ones fit your background and then put them in your resume.
For example, let’s say you are reporter, looking for a job at newspaper. The job ad asks for a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, experience with page design programs, and three or more years experience covering business. The job listing also notes that photography skills and daily newspaper experience is preferred.
From this listing you can generate a list of key words in the description and key words related to the description. In the description you can glean the words: bachelor, degree, journalism, page design, business, photography or photos, daily and newspaper. From these words you can also extrapolate: QuarkXPress and InDesign (page design software), Photoshop (software used in editing photos), deadline (relates to working at a daily newspaper), beat (a topic covered by a reporter) and writing, editing, copy-editing, reporting (all action words associated with the job). In this case, using industry jargon is important.
When writing your resume, make sure you show up front in your summary or objective that you meet the minimum requirements: Seasoned business reporter, with more than five years of daily newspaper experience, seeks position at leading Portland, OR-based business journal.
Next, include a qualifications section. Here you can incorporate in a bulleted list some of the other key words you gleaned from the job ad. For example:
-Fast writer accustomed to filing stories on a daily deadline
-Capable photographer, with experience using Photoshop
-Experienced page designer and copy editor (InDesign and QuarkXPress)
Doing this, you’ve already matched nearly all of the key words in the job description and even some others you’re guessing will be important. And, you haven’t even gotten to the main part of resume.
However, keep in mind the key word strategy in filling out the rest of your resume. Here are some other ideas for filling out the rest of the resume:
1. List your job titles in order of relevance.
2. Provide brief one sentence descriptions of your duties under each entry.
3. Below that, in a bulleted list, focus on listing your achievements, not your duties.
4. Unless you are a recent graduate, do not list your education first. Listing your education first is a dead giveaway that you lack experience.
5. Do not include “references or clippings available on request;” if employers want these items, they will ask for them.
6. Make sure you back up everything you put on your resume. Having key words is nice, but lying about your qualifications will get you nowhere.