No Black Hole for You: 3 Simple Tips to Optimize Your Resume

lion resumeRecruiters are constantly on the lookout for their next great team member. There are so many candidates and resumes out there, though, that unless you find a way for your resume to stand out on the web, an ATS or a job board, you will be overlooked.

When webmasters design a web site to be found by the search engines, they call the process (science? art? skill?) “search engine optimization.” Appropriate placement of the right words in the right place is critical to search engine optimization – and to your resume!

Here are 3 areas you can use this technique so recruiters find your resume (and LinkedIn profile) online… and all three start with researching the keywords employers use most:

1. Job Titles

It’s most effective to use the terms that employers are using, and you can find those by examining job postings for the kind of job you want next.

For example, assume a job seeker currently holds a job as a “Staff Assistant” for a large employer, and she decides that she wants a new job.

When she does some research, she discovers that the rest of the world calls her job “Administrative Assistant” (or, even, “Admin Assistant”). So, no one, except her current employer might be searching on the term “Staff Assistant” because they don’t know or use the term. They are searching for administrative assistants.

She went to ( or LinkedIn) to do some research, and she discovered this:

Administrative Assistant – 334 job postings
Admin Assistant – 72 job postings
Admin Asst – 5 job postings
Admin Assist – 2 job postings
Staff Assistant – 0 job postings

So she replaced her employer’s version of her job title (Staff Assistant) with what the rest of the world used most often (Administrative Assistant). And she found a place on her resume to add the Term “Admin Assistant” since that was also used a significant number of times.

2. Skills or Tools

Analyze how employers use different terms on their job postings so that you can use the most appropriate ones for you.

Continuing with our Administrative Assistant example, let’s assume that our job seeker is very experienced in using all the current (and older) versions of Microsoft Office products.  She could simply list “Microsoft Office” on her resume. But that might not be enough.

Doing some research into what employers are using in their job descriptions, our job seeker finds some interesting things. She searched through administrative assistant jobs for the following terms, and this is what she found:

Microsoft Office – 122 job postings
Microsoft Word – 217 job postings
Microsoft Excel – 158 job postings
Microsoft Outlook – 286 job postings

So, if she had listed only Microsoft Office on her resume, she would have missed out on the majority of the job postings. Notice that, since she was searching through those Administrative Assistant postings, most of them included more than one of the terms, and several of them included all 4.

3. Locations

This can be an important set of keywords, as well. Employers will often search on a job seeker’s location because they want someone who is local, someone who won’t need to move (or expect the employer to pay for a relocation). For example, assuming our job seeker wants a job in Massachusetts, some research would be very useful. A quick check of job postings for jobs in Boston, showed the following usage:

Massachusetts – 1 job posting
Mass – 588 job postings
MA – 1,000+ job postings

Use the word “Massachusetts,” the abbreviation “Mass” and the postal code “MA” on your resume. They are each a different way to type the same state name. A recruiter could type any of those variations into his/her search to find someone for a job in Massachusetts.

Avoid the resume black hole. Optimize your resume – and your LinkedIn profile – so recruiters come to you!





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About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter and on Google+.



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