|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Best Seller
35 Years in Career Management
The Internet has affected both the way you look for jobs and the way recruiters search for employees. Because of these two factors, your resume is quite possibly getting lost in resume databases, where it rests forgotten with millions of other poorly constructed resumes.
How database searches work: A company needs a new Operations Manager, and the recruiter logs into a resume database and types “Operations Manager” into a dialog box. S/he then moves to the next dialog box and is presented with a basic list of keywords often used to define the responsibilities of that job, this list is then added to with the recruiter’s additional requirements.
The search feature of the database reviews all resumes in that database, ranking your resume by the number of relevant keywords it contains. The higher your resume’s ranking, the more likely it will get read by human eyes. Add that recruiters never read more than the top 20 resumes and you can see why the average resume is challenged in this environment; especially when many of these resume databases contain millions and tens of millions of resumes.
Resume database technology focuses on skill sets, what we think of as the professional core competencies we apply everyday at work. For example in a search for an Operations Manager, some of the keywords likely to be used might include: Strategic Business Planning, Project Management, Cross-Functional Team Building & Leadership etc; if the search were for a Software Developer, the recruiter might search for keywords like Unix, Solaris, HTML, Java, XML, Visual Basic.
This means that without the right keywords, your resume is far less likely to rank high enough to actually be evaluated by human eyes. So it is important to use the widest a selection of relevant keywords in your resume, and to use them often.
The first step in making your resume work with these recruitment realities is to identify all the skills you have developed over the years that are relevant to your target job. See A Resume for Tough Economic Times and How To Supercharge Your Resume for advice on how to decide exactly which keywords to use in your resume.
You will want to make sure these keywords appear whenever they apply to a particular job and more importantly you will want to add a Core Competencies section to the front of your resume, after contact information, your Target Job Title and any Performance Profile or Summary. Here’s an example of a Core Competencies section from an operations management resume
Professional Core Competencies
Strategic Business Planning • Project Management • Cross-Functional Team Building & Leadership • IT/IS • Human Resources Affairs • Employee Benefits • Risk Management • Hiring, Training & Coaching Negotiations • Research & Analysis • Financial & Business Modeling • Finance & Portfolio Management Acquisitions & Divestitures • Operating Policies & Procedures • Inventory
There’s no need to use definite or indefinite articles or conjunctions and a Core Competencies section can be as long as you require.
Adding a Core Competencies section to the front end of your resume and then repeating those same words in the context of the jobs in which they were used has two major benefits:
- It multiplies the occurrence of keywords likely to be used by recruiters in the database searches and will dramatically improve your resume’s ranking
- It’s a concise review of all the hard skills you bring to the table and is a real attention grabber to a recruiter
Including keywords for skills you don’t possess may get you a telephone interview, but it will also quickly reveal you as an impostor; so don’t use keywords to extend the “reach” of your resume.