SEO for job Seekers: How to use resume keywords to attract employers

"I love my resume! I'm so proud of my resume I've framed it and it's hanging on the wall at my mom's house. My resume generates hundreds of invitations for job interviews!"


Stop reading now if this is you because you've obviously perfected resume keywords and don't require our help.

If you're like most of us, however, and could use a little help optimizing your already awesome resume, keep reading.

At first glance, your resume is probably well-written. Close to perfect grammar and punctuation. No formatting issues.

Most resumes don't ever meet a human eye. Stay with us and find out why your resume needs help making it to a recruiter's desk. We'll show you the why and the how of resume keywords.

You never know, it might help you get hired in that dream job you've been searching for since graduation.

Do I Really Need Keywords?

Consider this: No one reads your resume.

If you've imagined a scenario where a team of resume readers spends their days poring over applicants' resumes and cover letters commenting on how well-written this one is, or how poorly structured that one is, stop now.

Your resume may never make it to the desk of a human recruiter, much less to the person in charge of hiring.

At best your resume may get a brief 6-second look from a recruiter.

Blame it on applicant tracking systems, known in the human capital industry as ATS. An ATS scans your resume looking for any words that link you and your qualifications to the job description.

Your degree, level of experience, and attention to perfect grammar and punctuation mean little to these digital gatekeepers.

Technology stands between you and the human you hope reads your resume and is so impressed they call you for an interview.

It's all about keywords and since it's likely your resume won't be seen first by human eyes, knowing which keywords to use in resumes could mean the difference between a phone call from a recruiter and cold silence.

We hate the cold shoulder, don't you?

There's an easy solution to finding the right keywords for your resume.

On the Hunt for Resume Keywords

You won't find keywords in the dictionary or the thesaurus.

You can't call a recruiting firm and ask them which ones you should include in your resume file.

The truth is there are probably at least a few hundred keywords to use in a resume. Picking the right ones may save your resume from digital slush file and boost it up to the next human reader.

Take a few pointers from the digital marketing gurus and start with a set of core terms. Core terms make up the foundation for your keyword stockpile.

Wondering why you'd need a keyword stockpile?

Unless you land an interview for your dream job with one application, you'll likely respond to a variety of job openings. Each will likely require a resume tailored to the job description meaning you may not use the same keywords across the board. But you'll have your stockpile of core terms common to the industries where you're applying.

While core terms are normally used by businesses as part of their marketing tactics, the concept works for job seekers too.

The first place where you can look for core terms is the job ad.

For example, if you're looking for a position as a payroll clerk, go to one of the many recruiting sites, pop that search term in and read the job descriptions.

You'll find terms such as financial statements, semi-monthly and monthly payrolls, salary adjustments, year-end bonuses, and w2 templates 2018.

See how easy that was?

Now you're ready for the next level.

Go the Distance

Now that you know how critical resume SEO is to your job search, are you curious how you can use resume keywords once you're hired?

Hint: resume keywords aren't that much different than keywords used on a company website, at least in theory.

Even in a job like that payroll clerk above, you may be tasked with creating a marketing piece for your department.

Or maybe payroll isn't your gig at all and you're a digital marketing expert looking interested in fine-tuning your strategy.

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