Whenever you upload your resume through an online job application, you’re at the mercy of an applicant tracking system, or ATS. These systems are used by most hiring companies to manage and filter applicants like you, and many of these systems rely on keyword matching to reject or highlight candidates via their ranking and search algorithms.
Because of this, word cloud generators like Wordle and TagCrowd have become popular tools for career coaches and job seekers trying to gain a job search advantage. Pasting a job description into a word cloud tool shows which words appear most frequently in the listing and, in theory, tells the job seeker which words are most important to include in their resume.
Word clouds can absolutely help job seekers in this way, but they can also further complicate the resume tailoring process. With a word cloud tool, job seekers need to sort through a lot of noise and make major judgment calls on what is and isn’t important for their resume.
Jobscan has brought powerful tech and efficiency to the resume keyword matching process. Here are 7 ways Jobscan beats word clouds when it comes to your resume optimization.
1. Jobscan compares the job description to your resume
Generating a word cloud for a job description is only one small part of the equation. From there, you have to go back and forth between the word cloud and your resume trying to figure out which words are important, which are underrepresented, and which are missing entirely.
Jobscan analyzes the job description alongside your resume to generate an easy to read comparison that will allow you to spend more time optimizing your resume and less time connecting the dots.
“I used to tell people to do a comparison or Wordle word cloud,” career coach Ruth Kunstadter told Jobscan. “Jobscan is so much better because it really goes into the specifics of the skills that are noted in the job description and the ones that you are showing on your resume.”
2. Jobscan shows approved skills and keywords
A word cloud generator like TagCrowd knows to exclude filler words like “the” or “and,” but its intelligence doesn’t extend to leaving out irrelevant terms or keeping key phrases intact.
You can pick out some important keywords from a word cloud, but you’ll have to sort through dozens of irrelevant words like “job,” “office,” or “daily.” Furthermore, you might notice that “supply” is frequently used, but the word cloud tool will not point out that the more important keyword is actually a combination of words: “supply chain management.”
Jobscan uses intelligent curation, machine learning, and approval methods to exclude irrelevant filler while delivering real skills and industry-specific keywords.
3. Jobscan is easier to understand than a word cloud
A word cloud makes it easy to identify a handful of frequently appearing words, but due to irrelevant filler words and the way the information is visualized, it can be a struggle to figure out how to prioritize any more than the top two or three words. Comparing your resume only makes it worse.
Jobscan removes irrelevant terms and organizes the data in a way that is easy to read and translate to your resume. It shows the top skills as well as their frequency levels compared to what is already found on your resume. You can even click on a skill to see the context in which it’s used in the job description.
“Even though Jobscan is automated, the feedback that you get is readable and accessible and usable,” said Kunstadter.
4. Jobscan categorizes top skills and keywords by importance
After excluding irrelevant words and recognizing multi-word phrases, Jobscan places keywords into one of four categories.
Job Title Match – Jobscan checks to see if the job title for which you’re applying is present on your resume. While this might not be the most frequently used term on the job description, it is the most important as a recruiter’s first round of applicants will likely be people that have done the job in the past. The exact job title is often the first keyword search a recruiter will perform in the applicant tracking system.
Hard Skills (e.g. graphic design, customer service, accounting) – These are most important to your daily job duties and tend to serve as search terms for recruiters using applicant tracking systems.
Soft Skills (e.g. leadership, vision, flexibility) – These are unlikely to be search terms and are harder to prove on your resume. Rather than stuffing your resume with these terms, find ways to show that you have them through projects and results and keep them in mind for your interview.
Other Keywords – These are unapproved skills that appear in the job description more often than expected and are worth taking note of (but probably won’t make or break your resume).
A word cloud would have these three categories of skills and keywords mixed together (plus all the irrelevant words), making it harder to identify top priorities.
5. Jobscan’s matching algorithm is based off of top applicant tracking systems
A word cloud generator can be repurposed for the job search, but Jobscan was built for the express purpose of efficiently creating ATS-friendly resumes.
Jobscan continually studies the top applicant tracking systems and has built and maintained its matching algorithm based on how they actually operate. This includes studying how keywords are displayed in a recruiter’s interface and affect search results, rankings, candidate profiles, and other ATS features. Jobscan takes all of this into account when displaying your top keywords.
6. Jobscan checks for more than matching words
Jobscan has analyzed applicant tracking systems and surveyed recruiters to come up with a long list of checks that extend beyond keyword matching. The Jobscan Match Report includes findings relating to measurable results, cliche buzzwords, education, industry knowledge, and more.
Learn more about the Match Report with this short video:
7. Jobscan uncovers jobs for you based on your keywords
When you plug your desired job title into a job board like Indeed or ZipRecruiter, your results are limited to companies using the exact same titles and vernacular. Your skills and expertise could apply to a number of great jobs that you’ve never even considered.
The bottom of the Jobscan Match Report shows jobs in your area based not on job titles, but on the skills found in either your resume or the current job description.
Creative job seekers and career coaches have found a novel way to utilize word cloud tools in their job search, but cutting through the noise might be more effort than it’s worth. Job seekers can get the desired result, communicated clearly, with additional checks and insights with Jobscan.
Try it for yourself:
A version of this article was first published on February 23, 2016. It was rewritten with updated information and republished on April 5, 2018.