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An estimated 80 percent of companies use technology to help scan resumes and store the data in keyword-searchable databases for future use. So how does a computer decide who stays and who goes? In simple terms - keywords! These electronic processing systems are designed to seek out resumes that contain specific keywords chosen by the recruiter.
What are the right keywords for the job you are seeking? You'll need to spend some time researching job postings and help wanted ads for jobs that are closely associated with or nearly a perfect fit for your experience. Read as many job postings and job descriptions as you can find and start writing down words that you see over and over again. Then, incorporate these words into your resume(s) and cover letter(s).
For example, a recruiter is looking to hire someone to work in his manufacturing plant. He also needs the employee to operate the company's computer tracking system and conduct quality assurance testing. He will likely choose the following words to seek out applicants: Manufacturing; Computer; Quality Assurance.
The inclusion of these keywords is important, but make sure not to overdo it. Today's scanning technology is advanced and programmed to identify resumes that appear to duplicate a company's job posting. If you basically cut and paste a job posting into your resume, it will not be considered and your name will remain in the company's system in the red flag file. It is better to pepper in keywords as they relate to your experience.
After the initial screening by the computer, recruiters take over and begin reviewing resumes for qualified candidates. Primarily, they will look for relevant experience and qualifications. That is why it's important to highlight your accomplishments up front.
One happily employed Public Relations executive suggests throwing out the window any humble thoughts and hushing that inner voice that says you are bragging. Start your cover letter with a clear statement outlining your skills and abilities and try to put a different spin on your communications to stand out. For instance, her cover letter opens with: "Communications expertise. Results-driven media strategy. Ability to juggle multiple projects simultaneously...there are just some of the benefits I can bring to your organization."
She knows this technique works because she's used it to successfully land her last two jobs. As she says, "If you don't toot your own horn, who will?" Experts agree that by stating your key selling points right off the bat, you are maximizing your resume's chances of being placed in the "call for interview" file instead of the circular file.
Experts also say that the appearance and professionalism of your communications are critical. All too often, recruiters and hiring managers report finding typos and grammatical mistakes in the resumes and cover letters they receive. Before responding to even one more online job posting, take the time to edit your resume, proofread it and proof read it again. It's also a good idea to ask someone else to review it for you.
Once you are sure your resume and cover letter have the right keywords in place, are aggressively advertising your skills and qualifications, and are error-fee, start pushing those buttons and let the opportunities come to you.
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