How to use keywords to conquer resume-screening software

The trick to using just enough - but not too many - keywords in your resume

Before your resume is read it first has to make it to the hiring manager, the odds of which may lengthen if the company uses resume-screening software.

Commonly known as applicant tracking systems, this software is predominant in larger corporations due to hiring volume, but is making its way to organizations of all sizes. Resumes are scanned for keywords and phrases, which allows hiring managers to sort for those who meet a particular threshold of matches and disregard those who don’t.

You want to be in the former category, so the answer is simple: jam your resume full of keywords, right?

Not so, say writers Mark Slack and Erik Bowtiz.

"Don’t go overboard," they advise. "In the past, people thought they could exploit the system by overstuffing their resumes with keywords, thus ranking them higher in the eyes of the ATS. This is a very bad idea: Not only is the software sophisticated enough to see this kind of keyword stuffing, if your resume does make it into human hands, no one will be impressed by a nonsensical resume dressed to the nines in keywords."

Slack and Bowtiz offer the following tips for the using keywords wisely in your resume:

Use keywords from the job description

The pair say keywords listed in a job description, for example "network engineer", "project manager" or any specific hardware or software listed, are likely to be searched for by the software.

Use world cloud services

Cutting and pasting a job description into word cloud generators will show you which keywords to highlight in your resume. Slack and Bowtiz recommend Wordle and TagCrowd.

Spell out and abbreviate

Spell out and abbreviate any certification or title in your resume, a la "Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)" or "Chief Information Officer (CIO)." This is a catch-all as you won't know if the software is looking for CCNA or Cisco Certified Network Associate.

via Mashable

This story, "How to use keywords to conquer resume-screening software" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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