SEO for Your Resume

SEO for Your ResumeWith the advent of “intelligent” technology, technology that more and more mimics human behavior, a slew of new tools have emerged to help recruiters quickly identify candidates with relevant skills. The behavior such technologies emulate are the mental scoring and comparing of candidate applications, primarily resumes, that recruiters used to take days to sort through manually.

Now, by simply inputting key phrases or an entire job description, recruiters can automatically generate reports of upwards of thousands of job seekers in rank order. Calling back the top ranked candidates for interviews. These recruiter tools make it more important than ever before for job seekers to understand search engine optimization (aka SEO), to get your resume to the top of the list – similar to the way webmasters SEO their website to improve page rank in Google or comparable search engines.

As recruiting technologies are growing smarter; they’re doing a better job of eliminating loop holes and back door methods for breaking through employer screenings. No longer can job seekers get to the top by flooding their resume with keywords, some going so far as to hide the entire job description in the margins of their resume. Now, that just makes you look silly and obviously trying to cheat the system.

Sadly, there are no Adwords or secret keywords to repeat in your resume. Rather, it’s the rules of thumb that applied during the days of manual resume reviewing that are once again applicable today. This means job seekers need to go back to the basics of keeping your resume well organized and focused or tailored for every job. The former may sound easy but is often overlooked by job seekers who get too immersed in making their resume look unique or attractive, rather than optimizing it for machine readability. The majority of resumes nowadays don’t even get looked at by human eyes unless they’ve already made it past filters within an employer’s “applicant tracking system” (commonly termed an ATS) which scans applicant resumes submitted on a job board or corporate job site.

The DIY search test.

To make it easy to scan your resume into such systems, it’s necessary to use a simple format, something with clear labels and bullet points, to make it easy to search for information. Test how well organized your resume is by handing it to a friend and asking him or her to find a certificate or other specific past experience. If it takes longer than a couple seconds to find, it’s likely your resume needs some help.

The DIY recall test.

Keeping your resume focused can also be deceptively difficult but hugely important. The way many ATSs now search and subsequently rank candidates is based off of the key skills job seekers possess and how much expertise is held in those skills. Presenting a laundry list of skills only puts you at a disadvantage, making it rare that your name will be ranked highly as an expert for any skill. To combat this happening, an easy fix is to eliminate irrelevant past experiences to present a more focused image that’s more memorable and easier to recall by both human and machine.

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