From structuring resumes and cover letters with specific keywords in job descriptions to optimizing keywords, here are a few resume writing tips to get interviewed faster – and a word of caution on what to avoid!
1. Structuring Your Resume to Match Keywords in a Job Description
If you are interviewing for a particular job like an executive assistant role, but you haven’t been a secretary in 20-years, the keywords might have changed over time. For example, you might be proficient in typing, Dictaphone, and writing letters, but the position might indicate they’re looking for someone that uses Office 365, handles all correspondence, and takes dictation. You can update your resume to match keywords that an employer uses if they’re the same skill sets. It freshens up your resume and gets it picked up with resume searches.
2. Picking Up Keywords From Similar Job Descriptions
A great way to get your resume flagged as a potential candidate a company might want to meet with is to use similar keywords that you find in job descriptions. Never lie about a skill set you don’t have, but there are certain words that might get flagged and you want to have your resume and cover letter include the job description phrases if they match your experience. For example, you might book cars, book flights, and book taxis. The job description might state “handles all travel planning”. Make sure you’re using “travel” as that’s a keyword.
3. Mirroring Your Cover Letter to Match the Job Description
Aside from mirroring your resume to match job descriptions, you may want to pick up job description keywords for use in your cover letter if you possess the same skill sets. Job seekers that create their own cover letters may not be using advanced or professional wording that’s included in job descriptions. You want to have a polished cover letter that’s clear and concise, but never copy skill sets you don’t use. It is okay to use optimized keywords that can help you get the interview, like using “executive personal assistant” instead of just “secretary”.
4. Why Keywords Matter with Resumes and Cover Letters
For job seekers that haven’t worked with recruiters who use optimized keywords, outdated keywords can be hard to pick up in applicant searches. For example, a truck driver should use keywords like “logistics” and mention “CDL license”. An analyst should include “Series 7”, while a real estate agent should include “license” even if it’s expired. Just like a website uses keywords to rank higher in searches, resumes and cover letters that have strong, descriptive keywords can be picked up in resume searches and help you get interviewed faster. Just ensure you possess the relevant skill sets.
5. Ensuring Your Wording Matches What Employers are Looking For
A mistake that some job seekers make is they either don’t read a full job description or they apply despite seeing required experience they don’t possess. A job seeker might read the first few bullet points for an analyst position, but maybe they were a junior analyst or just graduated and haven’t taken the Series 7 test. If the job description states “Series 7 Required”, don’t apply and think you can talk your way through the interview. Job seekers might also apply despite not having all skill sets and businesses will discover this in the interview.
6. Keywords on Resumes and Cover Letters for New or Returning Job Seekers
For anyone returning to the workforce or just starting out, before just sending your cover letter and resume out, take time to research job descriptions to ensure you’re using relevant details and optimized keywords. For example, a mom out of work for several years might understand social media but if it’s not reflected on her resume and she only has “typing” listed, may not have her resume picked up in applicant searches. Likewise, college students and those with little to no job experience can use relevant descriptions to help with wording cover letters and resumes.
7. A Word of Caution About Listing Your Resume For Employers
Job seekers may want to list their resumes on job boards where employers can find them. It’s a way to showcase your skill sets, but a word of caution. Not everyone on job sites is hiring and there are identity theft problems. Never open links from companies that email and ask you to “click on this form” to provide your personal information like your social security number and date of birth. Instead, do a separate search with the company name, get the company’s phone number, contact them, and confirm they sent the email to you first.