How to Get Your Resume Noticed

When you’re looking for your next job there are two ways to get your resume to potential employers and hiring managers:

  • Send your resume to them through an application process
  • Have them (or the company’s recruiters) click on your resume from a resume posting website

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.

Paper

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

So How Do You Get Noticed?

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.

Keywords are Great for Initial Clicks

Packing your resume full of keywords is good for two things:

  1. getting clicks on job boards and
  2. getting your resume through automated scanning tools that employers use when accepting applications.

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.)

Showcased Experience Leads to Interviews

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.

Back Up Keywords with 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.

About the Author

By , on Sep 1, 2012
Kevin Mulligan
Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for RothIRA.com, Discover Bank, and many others.

Leave Your Comment (9 Comments)

  1. LinkedIn should be mentioned in this article. It is a great site, better than the typical job search sites like CareerBuilder or Monster (in my opinion). You can actually connect with people in areas that you want to get into rather than just submitting an application. It will also help recruiters put a face with a name.

  2. As a former recruiter these tips are all great! We used a resume database and sometimes there were 600 applicants for one job. There was no way we had time to screen through all those resumes. The system typically ranked each candidate based on keywords found in their resume that matched our job description. This is why it is important for candidates to really tailor their resume against the job description they are applying for in this tough job market.

    Sally Stretton

  3. As a former recruiter and hiring manager, loading your resume with keywords based on the job that you are applying for is key. We use resume databases that pull the candidates that have more of the keywords that match the job description to the front of the bunch. Sometimes I use to get 500+ resumes for one job. There is no way I could go through everyone’s resume. Networking is also very important too. I have landed every job I have had through networking!

    Sally Stretton

  4. I agree that focusing heavily on keywords in your resume is a great idea, providing that you can back it up with real experience! I’d also suggest creating a slide show presentation of your CV in power point as this also helps your resume stand out.

  5. Ferdinand, I do not see anything wrong with hiring the services of a professional resume writer when applying for a job. I also thought about it when I was had difficulty looking for a job; however, I do not have much money to spend. I cannot afford the costly rate these writers so I made my own research and looked for various resume samples where I patterned my resume. Of course, you have to customize each resume that you submit, depending on the company, position you ar eapplying for, and requirements for the position.

  6. Ferdinand says:

    I am not a good writer and making a resume is quite a problem that’s why i hire expert services. Yes indeed networking is perfect. I never thought of using keywords in my resumes but yeah that is a brilliant idea.

  7. krantcents says:

    When I used to respond to companies I made sure I modified my resume to match what they were looking for. You can call key words or something else, but you have to match what they want.

    • Pinyo says:

      @Krantcents – that’s the right way to do it. Read the job description and company history carefully, then customize your resume and cover letter for that particular company and position.

  8. I think the best way to get your resume read is networking. Find some way that you have a connection at the place you are applying and get a friend or acquaintance to pass your resume to the hiring manager.

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