Keywords: The Key to Getting an Interview

Have you ever applied for a job you thought you’d be perfect for, only to never get called for an interview? If so, you are far from alone.  Before you start letting it affect your self-confidence, rescan your resume. Often a resume is ruled out before the employer even sets eyes on it thanks to new scanning technology. The difference is all in the words you use. It’s called resume keyword optimization, and it has become common practice these days. In fact, it is said that up to 80 percent of employers use this technology as a way to filter through the mountains of resumes they receive for each opening.

How it Works
To get on an interview list, your resume must contain certain keywords that match the specific skill set and qualifications an employer is looking for. Before anyone even reads through your resume, it is often scanned by software programs that look for those targeted words. Resumes with them move on. Those without them get tossed out. It is as simple as that, and the more keywords you have on your resume, the better your chances of getting an interview.

Resume Musts
There are two important kinds of words to use on your resume; action verbs and keyword nouns. Think of it this way – action verbs show an employer what you’ve done, what actions you’ve taken in a previous job. They include words like “managed,” “wrote,” “analyzed,” “generated” and “negotiated.” Keyword nouns explain the things you performed those actions on. Keyword nouns can be things like a certain kind of software or facility.  The action verb usually precedes the keyword noun. For example, “wrote technical documentation and instruction manuals.”

Where to find the ‘Key’ Words
So, how do you know what keywords the employer will be scanning for? Your best clues will be in the job posting. You should be able to pick out at least six to eight keywords specifying what they are looking for, whether it is a certain kind of degree, specific experience, tasks or software knowledge, as well as what actions they value. Pick out the ones that most reflect what you have to offer the company and incorporate them into your resume.

Tips to Increase the number of keywords
To increase your keyword count, and your chances for an interview consider looking over several postings for similar jobs and finding patterns or common words you may have missed. You can also use synonyms, as well as other forms and tenses of your selected keywords to help boost your count. Use acronyms like IRS or LPN, as well as spelling it out. There are also several websites that list industry-specific keywords. Many people also put a ‘keyword summary’ at the top of their resume that lists many keywords for the specific job they are applying for. One last tip, be sure to incorporate results at the end of your keyword phrases. Facts and figures will add strength to your resume and help it stand out once it actually reaches a human pair of eyes!

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Michelle Knoll is a freelance writer based out of the Twin Cities with more than 15 years experience writing for local media outlets and other various organizations. She can be reached at Michelle@KnollCommunications.com

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