Before you apply to any job opening, before you set up any account or profile on any website, before you do anything, wouldn't it be nice to have the inside story on what the manager is looking for in a candidate? Especially the required skills or knowledge that they want you to have, so you can highlight that on your resume?
Now, I can't tell you what keywords and phrases they are going to use. But let me enlighten you on how this often gets done. You have a person sitting at a computer. Their job is to essentially screen all the resumes that are associated with a particular job.
You know what is scary? You would think that these people understand the difference between, for example, an industrial engineer and mechanical engineer, or the difference between finance and supply chain management. Many do, but a significant number may not, and some don't have a clue: They just look at the job description, then simply look for the keywords and phrases in it, type those into a search field on the computer, and press "enter."
The means that the resumes lacking those keywords or phrases are simply counted out. So you need to incorporate those keywords and phrases verbatim, because you never know the kind of screening system that you are up against.
Whether you think that's unfair or not, it's a reality at many companies. So use it to your advantage. These 7 Critical Steps can give you a far better chance of getting to the next step in the process:
- Don't follow the directions when a company website tells you how to apply! Before doing anything else, go to the company website and print out all the jobs that you qualify for, and not just the ones that you are most interested in.
- Take a highlighter and highlight all the keywords and phrases that the job description used to describe the skills, knowledge and years of experience they want or prefer.
- Take the keywords and phrases you highlighted and incorporate them verbatim throughout your resume.
- Create a heading at the very end of your resume labeled "Interest Areas" and put all the keywords and phrases you previously highlighted and list them, verbatim, under this heading.
- Now follow the directions of the site, which may include setting up an account online. Make sure to take those same keywords and phrases and incorporate them into your profile or the "interest areas" section, if they have that option.
- Apply for the job.
- As you apply for more openings, continually update keywords and phrases in your resume, in your profile, or interest area section.
This is called "reverse engineering" your resume. Just remember: To do it right, it will take you about 45 minutes to take your "base" resume and tailor it to each job.
Approach it this way: Each job that you apply for is the only job your resume is geared to. It may sound like a lot of time and effort, but your resume can't just be a good match, it must be a great match.
When I teach seminars on this topic, some ask, "Won't they look at my resume and count me out when they see that I just listed all the keywords and phrases in the 'interest areas' section of my resume?" The answer is: They might, especially if you haven't first incorporated the keywords and phrases throughout your resume. That's why doing both is critical.
For example, just incorporating the keywords and phrases into your resume might get you through to the next step, but might not raise your compatibility to a high enough level and you could miss the cutoff.
Remember, with online processes the way they are at most companies, there are very few ways for candidates to stand out. There could be 10 candidates that, by luck, score a higher percentage of compatibility. And although you meet all the qualifications, others might be ranked by the computer as "more qualified" and you are counted out. That is why having the "interest areas" section helps.
If you just cut and paste all the keywords in the "interest areas" section without also incorporating them into your resume, though, screeners will probably see this and count you out as well.
To incorporate the keywords and phrases into your resume, change or add bullet items in appropriate places. Change your objective to include some. The more time you spend crafting your resume this way, the more calls you are likely to get.
Finally, if you are applying online for jobs and are quickly getting counted out, that's the best indicator that you are not doing a good enough job of tailoring your resume to each job. It's then time to go back to the 7 Critical Steps, and measure your resume against them.
Remember, when you are applying to a particular job, your resume must be entirely directed toward that one job.
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