Keywords Count and Keeping it Real, Resume Optimization Without Dishonesty

According to the Wall Street Journal, mostrecruiters say that over half of job seekers are under qualified for the positions they are interested in. Even if you’re one of the qualified applicants, it’s still easy to get lost in the shuffle of ATS programs. You really have to be strategic to give your resume its best shot at landing in the hands of an actual human being, otherwise you’ll never even get an interview. But keep in mind, once you optimize your resume you’ll still have to talk about your experience. Once you’ve made it past the first round of eliminations, you’ll need to be able to back up all the great things you said about yourself on the resume, so be wary of exaggeration. Here are some tips for effectively showcasing your skills without tripping up the sorting software.

Speak The Company’s Language

Do some research on the company culture. Visit their website, read their blog, follow them on Twitter, and check out their LinkedIn network. What are their core values? How do they speak to potential clients, to each other? This kind of research helps you to keep your resume focused on the skills that a particular employer values most, and it can give you a clue about what they’re looking for personality-wise. This way, if you do score an interview you’ll have some insight into whether they’re more likely to appreciate a touch of braggadocio or whether it’s a safer bet to stay humble.

Using synonyms and similar language from the job description is a big part of optimizing your resume, so it’s okay to change words that mean the same thing to match those within the job description. While a hiring manager or recruiter will recognize the synonyms, an ATS likely won’t. It’s not a lie to say that you analyzed and interpreted data, when your resume previously stated tracked and reported on data. Company language and optimizing your resume for the keywords will certainly help you get your foot in the door.

Go Ahead and Brag, Just Be Honest

Take a few classes at a top university? Go ahead and name-drop the school on your resume. Some employers sort resumes by school, so it could help you get through the vetting process. However, don’t embellish anything. If you took a few classes, say so, but don’t claim you got your degree there or that you were on the dean’s list if you weren’t. Those things are pretty easy follow up on and if you’re caught in a lie like that, your chances of getting hired are pretty much zero. The same goes for just about any other aspect of your resume. And don’t forget to give credit where it’s due. A good way to steer clear of sounding arrogant when talking about your accomplishments is to acknowledge the team who supported your efforts.

Keep It Concise

Use bulleted keywords to describe your qualifications instead of a paragraph-style summary. The simpler formatting is more likely to make the cut when your resume is being shuffled through ATS systems. This also means that you don’t need to elaborate much about your skills and accomplishments. Stick with facts, and use relevantresume keywords to state them. Also, avoid using adjectives like “best.” Claims like this are entirely subjective and often come across as insincere to a recruiter. So unless you were actually awarded the title of Best Something Related to the Job, skip the superlatives.

It’s important to take the time to find the right resume keywords to highlight your skills and optimize your resume so you can stand out without putting recruiters off.


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