SEO Your Resume

Barry Lenson

SEO Your ResumeOnce upon a time, early humans printed out their resumes on paper and sent them through the mail. Today, of course, resumes are an electronic thing. Job-seekers create them on computers and then upload them onto job boards and employers’ HR sites when they are applying for specific jobs.

After a resume resides in those places, more electronic processes take place. Mostly, the hiring officers who are trying to fill jobs will use key term searches to find qualified candidates. If a social media company is looking for candidates who know back-end computer skills such as CSS, HTML, Flash, and JavaScript, for example, that employer is going to search for those terms. If your resume doesn’t contain them, you and your resume won’t be found.

So include key terms in your resume that are related to the specific job or jobs for which you are applying. Think of it all as applying SEO (search engine optimization) strategies to your resume. Websites can’t attract visitors if they don’t embody the right key terms, and your resume can’t either.

First, Identify the Right Terms to Use

Use the same key terms in your resume that you see in the job listing.

  • This is a real “Duh!” point to make, right? But despite the fact that it is obvious, some job-hunters fail to follow it. (Maybe they think that once they have worked so hard to create their perfect resumes, it would be sacrilegious to change them.) But if a job listing contains specific terms – “call center experience” or “excellent people skills” – those are the terms that the hiring company will be searching for when it screens resumes. So plug them into your resume.
  • Scour as many job ads as you can and extract “hot” key terms from them. Look at all the job listings on an employer’s list of available jobs, for example, and see if you can find additional key terms that could apply to the job you are targeting. Also look further by going to a mega job site like to review more ads for jobs in the same area, be it medical billing and coding, game design, ad sales – whatever. Make a list of terms that are being used for the kind of job you are targeting, and use them in your resume.
  • Used LinkedIn to look for the right key terms to use. This is a million-dollar tip that you will thank us for. Go to LinkedIn and join groups of professionals who are already working in the career area that you are targeting. (Some groups require you to apply for membership, but even those will probably let you in with no problem, even if you are a student.) Once you are participating, look at both the jobs that are listed there and also the general comments and posts that members make. You are going to see jargon and acronyms flying around that could be just the hot key terms that separate your resume from all the others out there.
  • Identify the company’s preferred key terms on its Facebook page, YouTube channel and other social media sites. They might not all apply to the specific job you are targeting. But you don’t want to leave any important key terms undiscovered, right?
  • Talk to an instructor of yours who is already working in your industry. These days, professors rarely live up high in “ivy-covered towers” where they lose touch with the world. Most of them are currently working in the field where they teach – be it hospitality, IT, insurance, forensics, whatever. These pros can be the best source of key terms that can customize your resume for specific jobs.

Second, Find Ways to Use those Key Terms in Your Resume

Use them in the “overview” or “objective” portion of your resume.

  • This makes a ton of sense. If an employer wants to know that you are adept at CSS, or crowdsourcing strategies, or whatever, put that fact right up front in the “overview” or “objective” section that starts your resume. Why force any human readers who come along to scour through your entire resume looking for the terms they are using to quality applicants?
  • Pack them into a “skills” section on your resume. This strategy can work best if you are trying to include three, four, five or more critical key terms in your resume. If putting them all in your “overview” will make it look like an overstuffed sausage, apply this strategy instead.
  • Put them in footer at the bottom of all your resume pages. You can apply this strategy easily, without rewriting multiple sections of your resume. Simply create a footer area on your resume where you list your skills by using hot key terms. You can put them in small type, where they won’t distract your reader from all the wonderful things you have to report in the main body of your resume. Even if the terms that you place in your footer are in teeny-weeny type, a hiring firm’s screening system will find `em, and then will find you.

If you use these strategies, your electronic foot will be in the electronic door of companies that are looking for employees just like you. And your resume will have done its job, which is to get you called in for a face-to-face interview with a breathing human being. At that point, you can wear a scarf or tie that is imprinted with all the key terms that will get you the job. Only kidding. But on second thought, maybe that’s not the worst idea.

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