Why You Need A Keyword Rich Resume

Thursday, 12. April 2012


When you are applying for a job, especially online, it is very unlikely that a human will first read your resume. In most cases, a computer program, which will search for keywords that are relevant to the job position, will first scan your resume. Those resumes that have a sufficient amount of the desired keywords will be moved to the top of the list, while those that do not will likely ever be read by a real person.

Phil Rosenberg, President of reCareered, recently discussed this the importance of keyword rich resumes in a post entitled, Why You’re Not Called When You’re The “Perfect” Candidate. Rosenberg answers the question quite simply, “It’s likely the reason you weren’t called is because one or more major criteria weren’t on your resume. And if it’s not on your resume, it doesn’t exist.”

When you submit your resume to a company ‘s application system, your resume is immediately scanned for specific criteria in the form of keywords. This is why it is so important to have a keyword rich resume that is specifically tailored for each application.

Writing a keyword rich resume is not as difficult as it sounds, especially with the help of a professional resume writer. The following guidelines will assist you with drafting a keyword rich resume, as well as what to do with it once it is complete.

#1 – Keyword Research
Before you can begin drafting your resume, you first need to do some research on the keywords the scanning software will look for. The best way to do this research is by carefully reading the job posting, paying particular attention to the keywords that are used in the job description. The scanning software will look for keywords that describe such categories as degrees, industry certifications, job titles, computer knowledge, and personality traits.

#2 – Keyword Density
Once you have an understanding on which keywords will likely be required, it is time to develop a list of variations of each of those keywords. For example, the education requirements for a particular job posting may require an MBA. In order to increase the keyword density in your resume, without sounding redundant, use the different variations, such as, master’s degree, Master of Business Administration, and MBA. The more keywords the scanning software finds, the more likely your resume will get passed on to the hiring manager.

#3 – Readability
Not only must your resume be keyword rich, so that the scanning software accepts it, but it will also have to read well. Once your resume has passed the virtual gatekeeper it will be sent off to the hiring manager. If it is packed solely with keywords and doesn’t read well, the hiring manager is likely to dismiss it.

#4 – Formatting
There are times when a hardcopy of a resume may still be required to be sent the traditional way, i.e. through the mail or fax. However, this does not mean that your resume will not be subject to the computer scanning software. Many times the hard copy is still scanned into the system so the program can look for keywords. In order to ensure that your resume is properly scanned you will want to take the following formatting guidelines into consideration:

  • Font choice: Use simple recognizable font styles, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana or Courier
  • Font size: Keep the font size between 10 and 12 points
  • Font style: Do Not use italics or underlined text
  • Headings: Format all headings in bold or ALL CAPS

#5 – Posting Your Keyword Rich Resume
Once you have a keyword rich resume, whether you have written it yourself or with the help of a professional resume writer, your next step is to post your resume so that it can be passively searched. Yes, sometimes the job offers come to you. Recruiters are known to search the popular job boards using the same keyword scanning techniques that the hiring company’s application software uses. Post your keyword rich resume on all the popular job boards, on your LinkedIn profile, and even your personal blog.

A resume is your chance to make a first impression to the decision makers of the hiring company. Ensuring that your resume is not only keyword rich, but also fine-tuned to meet the specific requirements for each job posting you are applying for, will enable you to get past that first crucial barrier, the virtual gatekeeper.

A professionally crafted resume that also reads well will help you to pass the scrutiny of the hiring manager, sending you well on your way to the first interview. After that, it’s up to you.

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