Most companies are now completely electronic when it comes to accepting your employment history and information. In fact, brace yourself for a long and frustrating experience every time you apply for a job. Somehow, online human resource forms are not standardized and each form is different. The one thing that stays the same is that keywords trigger their resume reading programs. No matter how many times you say “pretty please” in your resume or cover letter, it’s just not going to cut it in the resume-reading-software world. You need to load your resume with keywords employers are looking for. “How do I do that,” you ask? Let us review some tips to get your resume noticed.
The first thing you should do is take your fancy resume with bullet points and attractive formatting and remove all the “attractiveness.” You need an un-formatted, plain text resume. We’re not saying to throw away your resume, but have two versions ready at any moment: one that you can email and attach to applications and one that is simply for copying and pasting into online forms. It will save you a lot of time and make it easy to click, copy, and paste into the multiple online forms that require it. Instead of bullet points, use “-“ or “*” to separate your experience. Remove lines, colors, bold text, spacing (tabs, page breaks, etc.), and anything that gives your resume character. Then clean it up so that your experience is separated and easy to read. Visit (http://www.reslady.com/electronic.html) for more suggestions from professional resume writer, Pat Kendall. She reviews how to save your resume as a “plain text” file.
Next, review your resume and see if key qualifications are clearly defined. This means that if you are going for a Customer Service Manager position, that the words “Customer,” Service,” and “Manager” appear in your resume a couple of times. This is a basic, but necessary strategy. (http://blog.resume-help.org/2011/05/resume-screening-tips-for-beating-automated-resume-review-process/)
Your next step is to take the job description for the career you are applying for and highlight some of the keywords and phrases they focus on. For instance, some examples for a Non-Profit Executive Director would be: multi-tasking, budget management, fundraising, volunteer management, event planning, and grant writing. These keywords and phrases need to be worked into your resume because they are obvious trigger points for the employer. You do not need to saturate your resume, but inserting it 1-2 times will be worth the effort.
Review the company’s website for their mission statement, current press releases, and industry news. This will open you up to specific lingo the company may be used to. For instance, they may refer to “community relations” as “community investment.” If you are applying for an Executive Director position, it would be important to know that before sending them your resume. (http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-464-Cover-Letters-Resumes-What-are-Resume-Keywords/)
Once you have your resume loaded up with keywords and all the things an employer is looking for, it’s time to plug that information into the online application. Get your right click button ready for some intense copying and pasting. It’s the easiest way to accurately enter your long list of experience. It will get tedious, but feel good that the information you are entering will get their attention. The tricky part is to make sure you save each resume created for a specific company as a separate file. Your “Job Search” folder may get a little larger, but you’ll build a library of usable resume information to plug into future job applications.
All these concepts should also be used to populate your cover letter. Be sure to include the major skills mentioned in their job description into your cover letter by giving specific job related examples of how you fit the bill. You need to go the extra mile to personalize each form of communication with companies. You must be relevant to their company and many people miss the opportunity to prove this because their resume does not include key phrases.
The same strategies companies use to optimize their website for the internet (Search Engine Optimization) are the same concepts behind resume screening programs. Computers are now the screeners and you just need to get past them and into the hands of a real live human resources professional. Good luck!
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