SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, isn’t just a way for companies and individuals to improve their standing in search engines like Google. It can also be a good way for the clever job seeker to get noticed.
In today’s tough economy and crowded job market, most job seekers will do anything to get ahead. With the influx of candidates for every open position, recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly turning to technology to weed down the applicant pile. In fact, according to the National Resume Writer’s Association 80 percent of resumes end up in keyword-searchable databases.
So how do you work in those important keywords without turning your resume into word soup? Here are some helpful tips on how to use resume SEO to get noticed without undercutting your skills and qualifications.
The most important part of resume SEO is making sure the keywords you use will actually help you get noticed. Since recruiters increasingly rely on resume databases and applicant tracking systems (or ATS), focusing on including the right keywords is key to getting noticed. This will require you to do a little research. Look at the job description you’re applying for and pull out all the relevant keywords essential to the job. You can’t just stop there though! Do some research on your industry of choice and find out what the most commonly searched keywords are within this industry. Then make sure to include those buzzwords in your resume where applicable.
You might be a great team player or communicator but don’t focus on these soft skills. These won’t be the skills recruiters and hiring managers are searching for in their ATS. Instead, focus on job and industry-specific skill sets. If you’re looking for a job utilizing technology, make sure you list out the systems in which you are proficient. This way hiring managers searching for candidates with certain skill sets will be sure to draw your resume from the digital pile.
Spell It Out
The problem with keywords is you never know the exact phrases hiring managers and recruiters will be searching for. Perhaps you have down your title as Chief Executive Officer but a recruiter misses the resume because he was keyword searching CEO. Make sure your most important keywords are included in a variety of formats so there’s no way to miss them. Include both the spelled-out version and the abbreviation so you’ll always show up in results, no matter what variation is searched.
Just like on the internet, having links to relevant professional pages can only help. If you’re populating a LinkedIn profile or online job application, make sure to include all relevant links associated with your candidacy. Do you have a blog with top quality, industry-specific information? Link it! Do you have a stellar video resume showing off your communication skills? Link it! Make sure recruiters can easily find all your relevant information quickly.
Make It Readable
This is the most important point of all. After stuffing your resume full of keywords, if the resume reads like a word jumble you won’t get called in for an interview. Make sure the keywords are adding to your resume, not detracting from it. If your resume isn’t clear and readable, recruiters won’t be impressed with you no matter how easily they can find you. Remember keywords are there to help your resume get found. Once it does, make sure you have a compelling resume worth finding.
Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, which combines a video job board and online interviewing platform to enrich interaction between job seekers and employers. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.