Just in case you have no idea what “SEO” is, it stands for search engine optimization, and it is the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engines results (Google, Yahoo and Bing). At the heart of SEO are keywords, or buzzwords that identify an industry or profession. The end goal is to have valuable content full of pertinent keywords on your website. The better your content, the better the search engines will be able to read it and the higher you will rank.
So why should you care about SEO? Because a majority of employers are using software that uses this same technique to filter through resumes and if you don’t have the right content, you won’t come up in their searches. Even without the software, the hiring manager will manually go through the same filtering process. If they don’t see the keywords they are looking for they will just move on to the next one.
The software that is used is an ATS, aka – Applicant Tracking Software, which scans resumes to find predetermined keywords. If a resume has enough of the search terms it is saved to be later reviewed by the recruiter/hiring manager. The keywords that it is searching for depend on position they are trying to fill such as specific requirements needed for that job like certificates or work experience in a particular field. To determine which keywords you should use in your resume, review the terminology within job postings that are similar to what you will be looking for. Make sure you know what the latest buzzwords in your respected field are. To get some more ideas of what type of keywords recruiters and hiring managers are looking for, check out this list of 100 resume keywords from The Ladders. Keep in mind that although you want to have as many keywords as possible, you also want to make sure that they actually describe your experience and skills – lying on a resume is a “no-no” and more importantly, it’s illegal.
Here is how you can add some SEO to your resume:
- Use full and abbreviated words in your resume, for instance if you are looking for a position as a registered nurse, include both the term “RN” and “registered nurse”.
- Make sure to add your geographical terms.
- Don’t just list your keywords, add them to your content and make sure to use them in the right context.
- Embed keywords in your cover letter, just in case that is also scanned.
- Be specific with software you are experienced in. For example, list that you are experienced with the “CS5 Adobe Suite”, but then add more specific terms like “Adobe Photoshop” and “Illustrator.” Another example would be “Microsoft Office Suite” and Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint.”
- Add keywords to your titles and headers because these are given more weight than simply listed in a paragraph.
- Spell out the obvious. The Ladders uses a litigation attorney as an example; it seems obvious that a litigation attorney “has written briefs and legal memos, has done depositions and has handled discoveries…anyone who has practiced law would know that”. The problem is that the hiring professionals may have little experience or knowledge in the field that they are hiring for, they go strictly by keywords and descriptions that they search for.
- Make a master list of keywords you want to use.
- Search the LinkedIn profiles of people with similar jobs to what you are looking for to see what keywords they are using
Once you have all of your keywords it is time for the fun part, writing and organizing the content. You can find help with this in our upcoming article, How to Prioritize the Content in your Resume. If you need more help with your resume, contact us to learn more about our professional resume writing services.