How to Make Sure Your Resume is Discoverable

How to Make Sure Your Resume is Discoverable

When recruiters are searching for talent in resume databases (or social networking sites) they invariably do so with a specific Job Description (JD) in mind.

This is important, because job postings invariably reflect the exact wording of the Job Descriptions they come from. This means you can identify the words and phrases your target companies use when they are looking for someone like you.

If you and I want to hire an accountant, here’s how the process works. First, we need to identify the job title, so we type “accountant” into the dialogue box and specify a location. Next we click on the keyword options (words that describe the hard skills of the job), and up pops a list of words that have been frequently found in job postings for similar job titles. Finally, we add keywords of our own that do not appear in the offered keyword options.

The software then scours the database and builds a list of all the resumes that contain any of those descriptors or keywords. It then weights the list. Those resumes with the most frequent use and greatest total number of keywords rise to the top of the list. Mentioning keywords in a Professional Skills/Core Competency section at the front of your resume, and then repeating them within the context of the jobs in which they were used, will increase your ranking in recruiters’ database searches.

This is the first keyword test your resume must pass: Because recruiters very rarely go beyond the top twenty resumes in a database search, not enough relevant keywords means that no human will review it.

The second keyword test your resume must pass comes when your resume gets in front of recruiters’ eyes. The first scan takes no more than six seconds according to a recent study by No immediately accessible and relevant keywords/phrases means no second read.

Is anyone seeing your resume?
Is anyone seeing your resume?

The second read is a little more careful. The reviewers are looking only to see if the resume reflects the skills and competencies required for the job they are trying to fill. Recruiters and HR typically plow through enough resumes to create a “long list” of six to eight candidates.

There will be screening interviews with the recruiters and eventually your resume will land in front of the manager who actually has the authority to hire you. Managers hate reading resumes—they just want to hire someone and get back to work.

In fact, no one likes to read resumes; try reading six of them in a row and feel your brain melting into a gelatinous goop. Bear this in mind, because you can learn to use this to your advantage.

Research on what percentage of submitted resumes actually generate job interviews varies from 47 percent down to 4.3 percent. Whatever the actual facts are is irrelevant; what’s important to recognize is that most resumes don’t work. You can see that a resume that crams in every- thing you have ever done, without any real focus, is doomed to stumble at these initial hurdles. And no interview means no job offer. In a world without job security, where the statistics say that through a fifty-year career you will likely have to change jobs about every four years, you need to learn how to build a resume that works.

Get Inside the employer’s head
The first lessons in the professional world are invariably: The customer is always right, listen to the customer, learn the customer’s needs and sell to those needs. And yet we seem to forget this first step when it comes to writing a resume. Before writing your resume, you need to get inside the heads of your target employers and understand exactly how they think about, prioritize, and express their needs for the job you need to land. I have devised a tool that will do this and deliver:

  • A template for the story your resume must tell to be successful
  • An objective tool against which to evaluate your resume’s likely performance
  • An understanding of where the focus will be at interviews
  • A good idea of the questions that will be heading your way and why
  • Relevant examples with which to illustrate your answers
  • A behavioral profile for getting hired and for professional success throughout your career
  • A behavioral profile for not getting hired and for ongoing professional failure

Start with Simple Common Sense
Your resume will always be most effective when it begins with a clear focus on, and understanding of, a specific target job. Once you have this focus, you can look backward into your work history for those experiences that best position you for the target job. This will enable you to tailor a killer resume.

Not sure if your DIY resume is working? Knock Em Dead can help. Click HERE to learn more.

One thought on “How to Make Sure Your Resume is Discoverable

  1. Hi Martin,
    Good information, however, I have 2 questions. I recently have read that if you save your resume in a PDF format that ATS systems cannot read keywords in your resume, is this correct? I also read that if you have a MS Word table inserted in your document that ATS systems also have difficulty in reading keywords with this formatting present. Have you heard this and is this the case? I do try to discourage use of the PDF format, but as far as the Word table, I myself have used in order to align bullets in the key competencies section? Can you clarify or confirm? Thanks!

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