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BY Romy Newman

How to Write a Resume

Computer Resume

Photo credit: Unsplash

TAGS: Resume, Job search

Did you ever apply for a job that you were certain you were perfect for...and then hear back nothing? The lack of response may have nothing to do with your experience, and everything to do with how you’re presenting it on your resume.

These days, recruiters receive thousands of resumes for desirable positions. Because of these enormous numbers, 98% of job-seekers don’t make it past the original resume screening, according to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts.

So what is the secret to getting your resume to be the needle in the haystack that gets discovered? It’s all about keywords.

Here’s how keywords work: To manage the vast troves of responses they receive, recruiting departments build databases of resumes using their Application Tracking Software. They navigate through their database by searching for specific terms that relate the job they’re hiring for. These terms are known as keywords.

Since Fairygodboss is committed to helping our community get ahead and land the jobs they’re seeking, we reached out to two experts to get the inside scoop on keywords and help you understand how you should use them on resume.

“Keywords are an essential part of how we sift through the thousands of resumes we receive,” said Jenna Mucha, Talent Community Manager for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“Keywords bring up your ‘relevancy score’ in most HR/recruiting software programs,” says Christy Childers, Global Employer Brand Manager for Dropbox.

So how can you use resume keywords to your advantage to land the interview and the job? Here’s some advice from Jenna and Christy:

1. Adapt your resume for each company you’re applying to

“You should absolutely adapt your resume for each job you’re applying to,” said Jenna. “Review the job description and incorporate keywords directly from it.”

What kinds of keywords should you include? Well, of course you want to use ones that are essential to the role - such as “quantitative” or “customer service.” Choose keywords directly from the job description, especially those mentioned more than once. “But also check out similar job postings from other companies,” suggests Jenna. “That way you can anticipate or include terms that go beyond the posting. You should even check out the LinkedIn profiles of other people who are in similar roles.”

Here’s a great tip from Christy: Don’t overlook things that you think are obvious are implied in your background. “Some people think Microsoft Excel is a given in today's environment. However if the job description lists Excel one or more times (and you indeed have substantial experience with it), you need to include 'Microsoft Excel' on your resume. Also keep in mind that a computer doesn't know that 'Microsoft Office Suite' includes Word, Excel, Access, etc., so you must use these keywords exactly as you see them in the job description.”

That said, you should definitely not incorporate keywords if they don’t accurately describe you. Honesty and fair representation must come first.

2. Use keywords throughout your resume

The box for keyword relevance is not checked when you simply add the keyword to a “skills” section on your resume. Your keywords should be thoughtfully woven into your background bullets, ideally in several places throughout your resume.

“This provides credibility, but also increases the relevancy based on the way the software performs searches,” according to Christy. Also, she told us, “remove company jargon" especially in job titles. "While staying true to your past experience, it's okay to change the specific job title to ensure you're using one that is used more widely.”

3. Ditch the objectives statement

While a “summary statement” is key for your LinkedIn profile, both our experts agree there is no need for a summary or objectives statement on your resume. Jenna told us that the summary statement really isn’t useful to recruiters. If you’ve built your resume coherently, it should be crystal clear to recruiters what skills and traits define you.

4. Substantiate

“Keywords are important,” says Christy, “but quantifying your experience alongside those keywords to add credible context and to differentiate yourself is equally as important.” This is not just an exercise in copy/paste. You’ll need to substantiate why your background represents the skills that the keywords call for.

Some great advice from Christy on how to quantify your experience:

“Instead of listing ‘excellent negotiation skills,’ try adding some context to prove it such as ‘demonstrated excellent negotiation skills which resulted in an 80% close rate and #1 Account Executive in the Western US Region.’ Or for those who aren't in obvious data driven environments, use the results of a project to demonstrate your skills: in lieu of ‘attention to detail,’ you could instead include an example such as ‘demonstrated attention to detail in launching the first-ever global leadership development program from start to finish improving internal promotions by 35% across 3 continents.’"

5. Apply “beyond” the job

Once your resume ends up in a company’s database, Jenna tells us that it can often surface for other open positions. That means you should incorporate keywords that come up in verbiage about the company itself. For example, some companies pride themselves on “innovation.” For others, “team-player” or “collaborative,” is important.

And there are some keywords that work well for almost any job or position.. “Results-oriented,” “motivated,” “launched,” “team-player,” etc. There are some great online resources for these types of keywords. Note: there are also some keywords you should stay away from, such as “synergy” or “go-getter.”

 Of course, great resume keywords are not a substitute for a great work background. That said, if we can all have a better understanding of how our resume is being evaluated, we have a much better chance of getting to present that background in an interview. Huge thanks to Christy and Jenna for giving us the inside scoop.

Ready to start crafting your resume? Check out our favorite resume templates.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
Join us by reviewing your employer!
 

 

Related Community Discussions

  • I am trying to change career paths. I was laid off in Nov. 2016. I spoke with a master resume writer yesterday who recommended an entirely new resume, LinkedIn overhaul, valuation letter and summary/biography all for close to $3000. I also received a call for an interview for a part-time job, $10/hour, no benefits. Needless to say I burst into tears by the end of the day.

    I had high hope when I obtained my law degree (especially after working full-time & attending night classes). I've tried contacting the law school and my undergrad career centers but have received only nominal assistance. They both wished me luck, gave me login's to their job portals and had nothing more to suggest.

    Someone mentioned networking & I agree that is an option but here in Michigan is comes with a fee to attend events, seminars or join associations. I understand we are all trying to make money but I graduated from law school during the recession and have 6 figures in student loans. I also am running out of unemployment.

    The master resume writer explained only 15% of people get hired from online applications. Is that true? If so then why are we even bothering with an online system at all? She suggested I find the hiring manager & connect with that person. The hiring manager is sometimes 2 people deep in the company so how do I find the person who told HR that they need a person for X job?

    I've reached out to people on LinkedIn and have not gotten much response or advice. Are there any mentors or HR people that can suggest anything that is free? My mom thinks I should go back to school but with a BA and JD that I am still paying for adding to the debt with no promises that another degree will land me a job doesn't seem wise.

    I am frustrated, disheartened and angry that the process of finding a job has become so convoluted but understand why it has. I've read so many articles on LinkedIn that they conflict with one another...you need a cover letter, no you need a pain letter, don't bother you don't need these because HR won't read it. Your resume needs skills, don't list your skills, list dates, don't list dates, take off references. Which article do I believe? Adding insult to injury the unemployment agency here requires your resume to be uploaded to the talent network. Do you know what companies contacted me expressing interest in my skill-set? Tru-Green lawn care as a fertilizer sprayer and a local manufacture as a line-worker. Is that all I am capable of and are they even reading my resume?

    If there is anyone out there who can help please respond and as 1 talk-show host says everyday at the end of her show remember to "be king to one another".

  • Does anyone here work for Earnst & Young? I see their communications department is hiring for multiple roles I think I'm qualified for. I'd like to learn more "inside scoop" from a current or former employee. Also looking to learn more about how this department is structured so I can figure out which of the positions I should apply for. Don't want to apply for all of them and have it look as if I'm spamming them with my resume.

  • Any advice for someone searching for work during their first trimester of pregnancy? I currently work with a temp agency for income and am applying for my next role. From what I've read on the boards, it seems that most women are firmly established at their companies but I was forced to look for a new role outside of my former company due to a health condition. They were unwilling to move me to a different role within the company. Any suggestions on how to navigate the next 4-6 months before giving birth?

  • The previous post is a hard act to follow, but here goes: Within a week or two, I will be laid off from the ad agency where I work. Unfortunately, this is a hazard of working at an agency. If the agency loses a major client (or, as in our case, two), staff are let go. For me, this is deja vu; at my last job, also at an agency, we lost a major client and 11 staffers were laid off (including me).

    The advertising industry skews quite young. I laugh when I see a job posting for a "senior" copywriter requiring only three years of experience (I have more than 20).

    While I am seeking a permanent, full-time position either remotely or in the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey region, I am considering going freelance. I have had a freelance business on the side for decades, but never made the leap.

    So, if anyone has advice on making a living as a freelancer, let me know. Or, if you have any ideas on how to "spin" my experience in a positive way, please share. (And if you want to send a job offer my way, that's OK, too!)

  • I am highly skilled with a background in marketing management (MBA in Finace and Marketing), process improvement (Six Sigma), project management and research. I have been ranked number 3 in quality performance and recognized by a CEO for my innovativeness. I have taken serval (3) years off from the corporate environment to take care a relative that has significant chronic medical issues. I am ready to go back to work, but I have contraint. I want to be available - so I do not want to travel more than 20%. I do not want to work extreme hours - I want a balanced life. I am trying to relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina, so that I can oversee my relative's care, but I realize that this may not be possible.

    Watching this health crisis unfold has taught me that I do not need to make 6 figures. I want work that makes a difference and pays well. I am not a spring chicken (59 years olds). I documents that show the quality of my work.

    Where do I find a company that will provide the mental stimulation and flexibility. I like to think, solve hard problem and significantly change companies in positive way. I like the think tank environment.

    How do I search for and find a good fit?

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How to Write a Resume

How to Write a Resume

Did  you ever apply for a job that you were certain you were perfect for...and then hear back nothing? The lack of response may have nothing to ...

Did you ever apply for a job that you were certain you were perfect for...and then hear back nothing? The lack of response may have nothing to do with your experience, and everything to do with how you’re presenting it on your resume.

These days, recruiters receive thousands of resumes for desirable positions. Because of these enormous numbers, 98% of job-seekers don’t make it past the original resume screening, according to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts.

So what is the secret to getting your resume to be the needle in the haystack that gets discovered? It’s all about keywords.

Here’s how keywords work: To manage the vast troves of responses they receive, recruiting departments build databases of resumes using their Application Tracking Software. They navigate through their database by searching for specific terms that relate the job they’re hiring for. These terms are known as keywords.

Since Fairygodboss is committed to helping our community get ahead and land the jobs they’re seeking, we reached out to two experts to get the inside scoop on keywords and help you understand how you should use them on resume.

“Keywords are an essential part of how we sift through the thousands of resumes we receive,” said Jenna Mucha, Talent Community Manager for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“Keywords bring up your ‘relevancy score’ in most HR/recruiting software programs,” says Christy Childers, Global Employer Brand Manager for Dropbox.

So how can you use resume keywords to your advantage to land the interview and the job? Here’s some advice from Jenna and Christy:

1. Adapt your resume for each company you’re applying to

“You should absolutely adapt your resume for each job you’re applying to,” said Jenna. “Review the job description and incorporate keywords directly from it.”

What kinds of keywords should you include? Well, of course you want to use ones that are essential to the role - such as “quantitative” or “customer service.” Choose keywords directly from the job description, especially those mentioned more than once. “But also check out similar job postings from other companies,” suggests Jenna. “That way you can anticipate or include terms that go beyond the posting. You should even check out the LinkedIn profiles of other people who are in similar roles.”

Here’s a great tip from Christy: Don’t overlook things that you think are obvious are implied in your background. “Some people think Microsoft Excel is a given in today's environment. However if the job description lists Excel one or more times (and you indeed have substantial experience with it), you need to include 'Microsoft Excel' on your resume. Also keep in mind that a computer doesn't know that 'Microsoft Office Suite' includes Word, Excel, Access, etc., so you must use these keywords exactly as you see them in the job description.”

That said, you should definitely not incorporate keywords if they don’t accurately describe you. Honesty and fair representation must come first.

2. Use keywords throughout your resume

The box for keyword relevance is not checked when you simply add the keyword to a “skills” section on your resume. Your keywords should be thoughtfully woven into your background bullets, ideally in several places throughout your resume.

“This provides credibility, but also increases the relevancy based on the way the software performs searches,” according to Christy. Also, she told us, “remove company jargon" especially in job titles. "While staying true to your past experience, it's okay to change the specific job title to ensure you're using one that is used more widely.”

3. Ditch the objectives statement

While a “summary statement” is key for your LinkedIn profile, both our experts agree there is no need for a summary or objectives statement on your resume. Jenna told us that the summary statement really isn’t useful to recruiters. If you’ve built your resume coherently, it should be crystal clear to recruiters what skills and traits define you.

4. Substantiate

“Keywords are important,” says Christy, “but quantifying your experience alongside those keywords to add credible context and to differentiate yourself is equally as important.” This is not just an exercise in copy/paste. You’ll need to substantiate why your background represents the skills that the keywords call for.

Some great advice from Christy on how to quantify your experience:

“Instead of listing ‘excellent negotiation skills,’ try adding some context to prove it such as ‘demonstrated excellent negotiation skills which resulted in an 80% close rate and #1 Account Executive in the Western US Region.’ Or for those who aren't in obvious data driven environments, use the results of a project to demonstrate your skills: in lieu of ‘attention to detail,’ you could instead include an example such as ‘demonstrated attention to detail in launching the first-ever global leadership development program from start to finish improving internal promotions by 35% across 3 continents.’"

5. Apply “beyond” the job

Once your resume ends up in a company’s database, Jenna tells us that it can often surface for other open positions. That means you should incorporate keywords that come up in verbiage about the company itself. For example, some companies pride themselves on “innovation.” For others, “team-player” or “collaborative,” is important.

And there are some keywords that work well for almost any job or position.. “Results-oriented,” “motivated,” “launched,” “team-player,” etc. There are some great online resources for these types of keywords. Note: there are also some keywords you should stay away from, such as “synergy” or “go-getter.”

 Of course, great resume keywords are not a substitute for a great work background. That said, if we can all have a better understanding of how our resume is being evaluated, we have a much better chance of getting to present that background in an interview. Huge thanks to Christy and Jenna for giving us the inside scoop.

Ready to start crafting your resume? Check out our favorite resume templates.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
Join us by reviewing your employer!
 

 

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