How To Write The Perfect Resume – Part I: SEO, Keywords, & Bots. Oh My!

PART I OF IV IN THE "HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT RESUME" SERIES

Welcome to the "Perfect Resume" blog article series. Over the next few articles, you are going to learn some great tips that you can immediately implement to improve your resume dramatically. If you are really serious about improving your job search, I suggest you take the FREE . Ok, on to the good stuff!

Technology pervades our everyday life, so why haven't you updated the way that you write your resume?  In this article, you're going to learn why you have to modernize your job search, and how to get started.

THE STATE OF RESUME WRITING AND JOB SEARCHES IN 2017

First, let's talk a little bit about how the job search landscape has changed with an example.

Scenario #1:  Let's say you dust off your old school resume, convert it into a digital format and set about your way on a job search. Maybe you know the company you want to work for, so you go to their website, find the job listings and the job you fancy, and submit your resume via their online application process. And you wait. And you wait...and you wait.

IF you are lucky, you'll get some sort of an acknowledgment that your resume was received. Much less likely, you'll get a response with some sort of resolution (i.e. "Thanks but no thanks." or "Let's schedule a call.").

My friend, your resume is now in the "black hole" of online job applications.

Scenario #2: Now, let's take a look at a more optimal outcome.  First, you use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Keyword research to build a resume with the top terms that Recruiters are looking for.  Then you park your online resume on a site where Recruiters are already searching.  Your resume comes up in more searches than your peers.  Your resume appears higher up in the list of candidates.  Now, you're up to bat, what will you do with this opportunity. Well, since this is our "best case" scenario, you'll dazzle them with the pinhole of information that they initially see among all the candidates that surfaced in their search, and they are enticed to click into your resume for a more complete view.  Here, within a few seconds, they become a raving fan of yours.  They want to meet you, they want to become best friends, but for now they'll settle with reaching out to connect with you.  BOOM! Drop microphone, walk offstage, you just nailed the job search game.  It's a shame that you only play this every few years, because damn, you're good.

So, which scenario do you prefer?

If you prefer Scenario #2, and I'm sure you do because that's why you are here, then let's get started with some cold hard facts in the next section that should guide your job search strategy.

REFERRALS: STILL THE BEST WAY TO GET HIRED

Let's take a look at the definition of an "Employee Referral" from Wikipedia:

"Employee referral is an internal recruitment method employed by organizations to identify potential candidates from their existing employees' social networks. An employee referral scheme encourages a company's existing employees to select and recruit the suitable candidates from their social networks."

  • 30%–50% of hires come from referred candidates (not cold applications)
  • Referred candidates are four times more likely to be hired than non-referrals
  • Referrals lead to a whopping 85% of critical jobs being filled
  • Therefore, the best jobs are generally never posted publicly

As you can see, getting "referred" is the best way to get your resume in front of Recruiters and hiring managers.

You'll still need a well-crafted resume, so why not build one that will satisfy Recruiters as well as get past any bots.

SEO VERSUS THE BOTS: USE TECHNOLOGY TO BEAT TECHNOLOGY

ATS or Application Tracking Systems are software that handles recruitment needs, including filtering out the wheat from the chaff (i.e. strong candidates from weak candidates). These ATS bots "score" every application based on how well it matches the criteria specified by the Recruiter. Higher scoring resumes are forwarded to the Recruiter for consideration, while lower scoring resumes are bypassed, and essentially filtered out by the ATS bots (i.e. sent to the "black hole" of online submissions).

"With the advent of ATS, resume optimization techniques and online tools are now used by applicants to increase their chances of landing a screening call."

In other words, as these ATS filters improve, so too do you need to get smarter in how you write your resume. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a technique where you reverse-engineer how the search engines (or in this case Bots) work, to increase your chances of getting your optimal outcome (i.e. scoring high and getting past the Bots). Employing SEO is a case of working smarter.

Bots are dumb. They look for certain criteria, just like Recruiters do, and bypass (score low) those resumes that don't have the magic words.

So, what are the magic words?

We'll call them "Keywords" and you are going to learn all about them in the next section.

KEYWORDS: NOT ALL WORDS ARE CREATED EQUAL

Recruiters are tasked with matching the right candidate's background to the needs of the role. Their input is the job description for the target job requisition they are trying to fill. What they use to match against are the resumes of applicants or potential applicants. In theory, the best fit or match justifies advancing the candidate to the next phase of the job search funnel; contacting the applicant for a phone screen.

There are infinite ways to describe your past experience. Use the wrong terms and you won't match up against what the Recruiter is searching for. You need to find and implement the RIGHT Keywords, including synonyms, and even buzzwords. Check out this article to understand Keywords, and pay special attention to the "long-tail" section at the bottom.

When you use the right Keywords, the results can be staggering.  You can go from feeling like you are the only person on LinkedIn ("Hello? Is anyone there?"), to feeling like a celebrity.

You can gather the relevant Keywords from a variety of sources, the most impactful being the job descriptions of the jobs you are pursuing. You can also get great Keywords from more creative outlets like trade groups, meetups, newsletters, news, and blogs. While this can be more of an art than a science, I've compiled the exact method that I used to drive my 90-day LinkedIn Profile Views from 100 to 200 to 450 in a video course titled "Flip-the-System - Resume Writing (CV) & LinkedIn Profile Optimization" check out the promo video and see if it is right for you.

Regardless, you now have enough of the "what" you need to do to start this exercise on your own.  Create a list of the top 10-20 Keywords specific to your target job that you need to integrate into your resume and LinkedIn profile.  Then monitor your performance. Are you getting more inquiries? Better inquiries? Inquiries for broader positions (more Keywords)?

CONCLUSION

If you are not updating your job search method to match the times, then you will not achieve maximum results. While getting referred for a position gives you the stage upon which to shine, your resume still needs to wow Recruiters and hiring managers to advance in the hiring process. Employing SEO techniques centered around using the right Keywords will greatly improve chances that your resume get's through the Bots blender, and aligns with the job description Recruiters are trying to fill.

In the next post titled, "HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT RESUME – PART II: THE “CAREER PLANNING BLUEPRINT” & THE DATA DRIVEN JOB SEEKER," we'll talk about where you need to be focusing your efforts in your job search to deliver the maximum benefit using data-driven examples.  We'll also introduce you to a new job search "Framework" that can help you achieve more out of your career in less time with a little bit of forethought and planning. Keep reading...!

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