You carefully craft a resume and submit it, expecting that it will be reviewed by someone before landing on the hiring manager’s desk. But this isn’t what happens, at least not initially.
First, you typically have to make it past the gatekeeper. This gatekeeper, a bot, likes specific words and data. If your resume lacks those specific words (keywords), it may disappear into the electronic ether. It’s Matrix time, and while the system may not feel fair, it is certainly workable.
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s critical not to lie on your resume. There’s no point using keywords if they don’t reflect your skill set and experience. Eventually, you’ll meet with a human being and be found out. This could torpedo your job search prospects.
The software that scans your resume, (typically called “applicant tracking system” or ATS), is not intuitive. Basically it’s looking for keyword matches.
Here are 5 tips that can help you create a resume that gets noticed.
#1: Echo the Job Posting
Use the same language, if possible, that is in the job posting. If the position lists a specific software or skill a certain way, echo the phrasing. This will help with keyword matching.
Pro Tip: While there are generic keyword lists online for accounting and finance roles, it’s best not to use them. Customizing your resume is the key to success.
It’s possible that the ATS will not recognize an acronym. And while it may feel odd to write “Masters of Business Administration” rather than “MBA,” it’s definitely a better approach. Consider writing MBA in parentheses after Masters of Business Administration to balance between the bot and human eyes.
#3: Hard Skills
Make sure that your resume includes all of the technical skills that are listed in the job posting (if you have them). Include any education, job titles and software like Microsoft SQL that are listed. Again, try to create alignment between your resume and what’s written in the job posting.
#4: Soft Skills
Don’t ignore soft skills such as leadership qualities, being a self-starter, or a collaborative communicator. Advanced keyword scanning software will also search for soft skills, particularly if they are included in the job posting. Some recruiting firms, for example, are utilizing proprietary software algorithms that include keyword matching for soft skills. So while it might be tempting to only focus on the technical requirements of the role, you ignore the soft skills section at your own peril.
#5: Tools That Can Help
Jobscan has a tool that will allow you to copy and paste your resume in one box and the job posting in another. With the click of a button you can find out how well your resume matches the posting, and which keywords are missing. Indeed’s job trends can help you create a LinkedIn profile, for example, that connects to keyword trends for specific roles. Essentially, the tool can help you find out which keywords are most commonly used in job postings:
- Go to the search box and type in a few of versions of keywords that you’re considering
- Click on “find trends”
- The search algorithm will tell you which keywords are being most frequently used
- Consider integrating the top two results, but if you can’t, use the one that is most common
- This tool can help you decide how to build the most relevant profile for recruiters and HR professionals who might be doing LinkedIn searches for potential talent
Pro Tip: Your job title is a particularly important part for LinkedIn keyword matching (as are your past roles) so use the title that is most likely to match the recruiter’s search.
Resources: Here are a number of LinkedIn resources that include keyword tips and valuable LinkedIn insights:
- The Best LinkedIn Tips for Active Finance and Accounting Job Seekers
- Tips from Toronto Recruiters – How to Write a LinkedIn Summary
- How to Get the Attention of Accounting Recruiters with LinkedIn
Using a smart keyword strategy when it comes to your resume and LinkedIn profile can help you get noticed by recruiters and HR. Don’t download a generic keyword list for the job you are interested in. Instead, read the job posting carefully and customize your resume to match the keywords listed in the posting. Be honest. Your resume will eventually be reviewed by someone. Include both hard and soft skills, as more advanced algorithms scan for soft skills. Take advantage of tools that can help you review how you’ve used keywords in your resume. Leverage Indeed’s job trends function to find out which keywords are most common in your role and then include them in your LinkedIn summary and throughout your profile. Using keywords correctly can help you get noticed by recruiters and HR personnel, and should, as a result, not be dismissed as a job search strategy.
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