Ready to launch a new career, but no one seems interested in interviewing you? Your résumé -- and its lack of keywords -- may be to blame.
Keywords are terms or phrases that are specific to a particular industry or profession, and they're an essential element in the résumé-scanning process. Today, employers and recruiters are increasingly searching résumés electronically for keywords to help them weed out candidates whose résumés do not reflect the skills, qualifications or credentials they're seeking.
This stage of the job search can be problematic if you're trying to break into a new industry or profession.
"For career changers, keywords are particularly relevant and require a great deal of thought because you don't necessarily want to include keywords that are descriptive of your past experiences. Instead, you want to include keywords that reflect your current career goals so that those words are the ones that will get your résumé noticed and not passed over," explain Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark in their book "Expert Résumés for Career Changers."
According to Enelow and Kursmark, the following keyword strategies are especially helpful for career changers:
- In sections throughout your résumé, integrate keywords from your experiences that directly relate to your current career goals. Even though certain tasks or accomplishments may have been a minor part of your experience, they should be highlighted on your résumé if they relate to your current career goals.
- Include an "objective" section on your résumé that states the type of position you are seeking and the associated responsibilities. For example, "Seeking a position in purchasing management where I can utilize my strong skills in research, analysis, negotiations and product management." This is the recommended strategy if you do not have the appropriate experience (keywords) in your background to include in the career summary and experience sections of your résumé.
Not sure which keywords you should be using? Enelow and Kursmark offer some guidance:
"Just by describing your work experience, achievements, educational credentials, qualifications, objective and the like, you might naturally include most of the terms that are important in your new career field. To cross-check what you've written, review online or newspaper job postings for positions that interest you. Look at the precise terms used in the ads and be sure you have included them in your résumé."
Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne.
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