When you’re looking for your next job there are two ways to get your resume to potential employers and hiring managers:
Either way you want your resume to get noticed. The strategy is to get as many views as possible in order to increase your odds of getting a call about a job.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
One of the most common pieces of advice about getting your resume notice is to pack it full of keywords. The thinking is if your resume doesn’t bring any clicks and eyeballs, then it can’t generate any calls, and thus you never get an interview. And the easiest way to get someone to click or call… lots of keywords.
How many keywords?
Some people take every possible relevant keyword from their industry and drop them in a giant block at the bottom of their resume. There’s one major problem with this strategy — employers want experience not marketing. Have you ever seen a book with a fantastic cover that was a horrific read? You don’t want a potential employer to think the same thing about your resume.
Packing your resume full of keywords is good for two things:
However, it is going to lead to a lot of false positives where the employer clicks on your resume, realizes you have absolutely no experience in what they need, and moves on. So that click and initial interest in your resume has done you little good. (And if you send your resume in several times to different jobs with the same employer, and you’re a fit for none of them, you can expect to never get a call back on any job. You become the black sheep of job applicants thanks to annoying the hiring teams.)
You know what is better than just getting a hiring manager to click on your resume?
Getting them to pick up the phone to set an interview with you.
Granted, you may miss out on some of those clicks by not artificially fluffing up your resume with keywords. But the views you do receive will be genuine which should lead to a higher percentage of calls and interviews.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have appropriate keywords in your resume. The idea is to showcase your experience in a way that is relevant to a hiring manager. Give specific examples and use industry keywords… just make sure it is legitimate experience.
There is some marketing involved with your resume. It’s like trying to sell a car you own. Take the car, unwashed for weeks, unwaxed, and never vacuumed and take poorly lit photos in an alley. You wouldn’t expect many calls from buyers, and the ones who showed up wouldn’t offer top dollar. Take the exact same car, clean it up nice and get a nice coat of wax on it. Grab some professional (or just better lit) photographs and you can expect more interest.
The same is true with your resume: the marketing of your resume is having the right keywords to get an employer to look. But if the keywords aren’t used in a valid sense to show off your experience, you’re just taking poorly lit photos of your experience. Make them shine and increase your chances of getting interest on the resume.