In a lot of ways, writing a resume is like writing a website: Content is paramount, and you never want to detract from the story you’re telling—but at the same time, it helps to be mindful of keywords. Keywords help people find the information they’re interested in. If you want the people who are searching for you to find you, keywords are the breadcrumbs you use to lead them in the right direction.
Why Keywords Matter
A recent Forbes article highlights the significance of keywording in the resume writing process. “When a hiring manager has an open position to fill, he or she meets with an HR representative to create the job description,” the article states. “This document usually includes a brief paragraph about the position, a list of job responsibilities and a list of job requirements (such as knowledge, skills, experience and education). After the job description is written, the hiring manager and HR representative determine the keywords and keyword phrases that are unique to the job. These keywords are essentially the qualifications, experience and characteristics they are looking for in a new hire.”
The Forbes article goes on to note that many companies now use computer programs that scan resumes for keywords and provide rankings of the resumes that best meet the job criteria. In other words, a piece of software will tell companies if your resume has enough pertinent keywords in it—and if it doesn’t, your resume may never get looked at by human eyes.
How to Include More Keywords
So how are jobseekers supposed to know which keywords to include, and how do they work them into their resumes? Here are three quick tips:
- Use keywords from the job posting itself. Look at the job description to which you’re applying, whether it’s on a company website or on Monster.com. Does it make use of phrases like project management? If so, then you’d best include those phrases on your resume. The job posting should provide you with the concepts, skills, and terminology that your resume needs to include, so always follow its lead; and yes, this means customizing your resume for each new job you apply for.
- Create a Core Competencies section at the top of your resume. This should be just a bulleted list of keywords, including those taken from the job posting itself. This makes it easy for hiring managers to zero in on the data they’re looking for.
- Review those keywords before you go in for an interview. Make sure you know how to speak the same language as your interviewer, and tell him or her what the company is looking to hear.
To learn more about resume writing or the specifics of the keyword process, we invite you to contact the Grammar Chic team today at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.
“You keep on saying that. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That’s one of the most famous, most frequently quoted lines from the classic film The Princess Bride—and while it wasn’t actually used in reference to resume writing, it might as well have been. Frankly, there are many job applicants whose resumes use words that they believe to mean one thing, but in fact mean something else altogether.
We’re not saying that these jobseekers are ignorant or illiterate, or that they’re using the words incorrectly, strictly speaking. While they may have the definition of the word right, however, they can miss the connotation of the word. In other words, they may be trying to say one thing, but recruiters and hiring managers might read it as something totally different—and less positive.
Here are just a few examples—some common resume buzzwords and clichés that may sound like they mean one thing, but actually mean something different:
- Hard-working. You may use this term to denote that you have a burning passion to put in an honest day’s work, to devote 100 percent of yourself to whatever task you’re handed. The problem is, it’s sort of a vague term that almost anyone could use on a resume, and nobody could really prove. It lacks in specificity, which might lead recruiters to think you don’t have anything more specific or tangible to offer. The way they’ll read it, then, is as desperate.
- Self– You may use this term to suggest that you’re an independent thinker and that you don’t need a lot of direction. Ironically enough, recruiters often take it in just the opposite way, assuming you to be, perhaps, a little too much of a free spirit, in desperate need of extra supervision to make sure you stay focused on company goals.
- Team player. This one is almost the opposite as the last. Recruiters won’t necessarily take this to mean that you value unity and collaboration; they may take it to mean that you don’t like to lead or to take initiative, which isn’t always what they want to hear.
- Reliable. This isn’t really a word that gets the toes a-tappin’, is it? Applicants may use it to suggest that they are loyal and dependable, but recruiters will take it to mean that you’re not really a shining star—that you just show up and take up space, day in and day out.
- People person. Reads as: Talks too much, or perhaps as Spends too much time at the water cooler.
- Dynamic, problem-solver, creative thinker, or flexible. Same as hard-working. It just comes across as desperate.
When writing your resume, it’s important to think through the implications of each and every word—and, if possible, to pair every adjective you use with measurable, concrete results.
To learn more, or to schedule a resume consultation, we invite you to reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. resume writing team: Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.