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What’s Your Keyword?

In the past, many job seekers spent endless hours crafting the perfect resume. Potential employees were advised to pay attention to the font, content, and even the paper that their resumes were printed on. Potential employers critiqued and discounted resumes based on spelling errors and split infinitives. However, in the new age of recruitment, the resume has lost relevancy as the deciding factor to losing or gaining the job. The resume remains a tool which summarizes one’s experience, skills, and accomplishments, but more importantly, it is the vehicle by which a jobseeker enters a potential employer’s applicant tracking system.

Many employers are now utilizing applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are software systems that scan resumes for keywords relating to job openings.  A study done by the online company Jobscan found that 98.2% of all Fortune 500 companies use an ATS. There are many pros for employers to use these systems, but because the ATS is looking for keywords in a resume and not the resume in its entirety, the jobseeker can easily get lost in the shuffle. The ATS can be a real roadblock to many qualified candidates.

With that being said, there are many ways to win the keyword battle. The “one size” resume should now be replaced with a resume that is specifically tailored for the open job position. Read the job posting carefully to identify what the desired keywords should be. Pay special attention to the “desired qualifications” and “responsibilities” section. Resist the urge to load your resume down with keywords, but instead, “sprinkle” with well-placed ones instead.  Make sure to do your research as there is plenty of guidance online.  There are many examples of keywords, but some tried and true ones include communication skills, decision maker, initiative, problem solver, identified, initiated, implemented, and team player. Remember, keywords are words or phrases that describe the functions or expectations of a job. Play the keyword game correctly and the next word you will be spelling is SUCCESS!

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