Are you using industry specific keywords on your electronic resume? If not, you may be missing out on the opportunity to give your next job application a competitive edge. Using the right keywords may just give your application a boost in today's competitive job market. Here's why.
These days, many large companies enlist the aid of scanning software to help them sift through the large numbers of applications they receive for a vacancy. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology can enable a busy HR department to come up with a 'long list' of candidates who meet specific criteria and who could be considered for interview.
Creating a resume or cover letter that's suitable for scanning isn't just a question of computer-friendly formatting. Layout matters, to be sure -- and in order for the software to 'read' your resume cleanly, you'll need to make certain that you follow some basic guidelines with regard to choice of non-fancy fonts, placement of key data and crisp, smudge-free print quality. But it's also likely that a scanned resume will be searched for keywords which match the needs of the job.
One possible way to find out whether your next targeted employer will scan your application might be simply to call the HR department and ask if they would like to receive a resume specially formatted for the purpose. But it will still be up to you to decide what keywords should be incorporated into your profile.
Here are five simple tips for coming up with ideas:
1. Search through the job advertisement and description for words that describe the roles and skills involved in the work. Particular terminology may be repeated or have special relevance to your target field or position.
2. There may be specific jargon or buzz words that are in common parlance within the industry that you can incorporate to show familiarity with these technical terms.
3. Do as much research as possible in the company literature and reports. If there is a company website, spend time visiting relevant areas to discover keywords that the employers themselves use.
4. Does your industry have a professional association? If so, try reading their publications to find out more about the culture and language of the business.
5. Many careers have a variety of online forums, chat venues and groups for the exchange of ideas and information. Find what's available through an online search, browse postings and participate in discussions.
When drafting a keyword rich resume, build your terms into phrases that state your accomplishments and use them near the top of your resume to give them maximum exposure. But avoid meaningless repetition of keywords in the attempt to achieve a higher 'score'; even if it is first scanned by a computer, your resume needs also to pass the inspection of a human reviewer if it is to be successful!
Nigel Patterson is a business writer and publisher of http://1stClassResume.com.
Visit his website for more tips and advice on writing an effective resume and cover letter, resume distribution and preparing for a job interview.