Pass the First Round of Resume Screening With KeywordsApril 17, 2009 by Candice A
There are several career experts who are both for and against the use of keyword-rich resumes. The supporters seem to overwhelmingly outnumber the dissenters, so it’s probably a good idea for college students to retool their internship resumes to include keywords that are relevant to the positions they desire.
“The main reason for including key words in resumes is that many businesses scan resumes into a data-base. The data-base then searches for key words to decide which ones to forward to HR or the hiring manager. Key words are sometimes listed at the top of the resume as Technical Skills or Special Skills,” said Liz Harris Tuck, a career counselor with 20 years of experience who has also written two career planning text books for Prentice Hall. “College students may not think they’ve accomplished job-related goals, but most have. They can include class projects or extra-curricular activities (Raised $10,000 for xxx organization by producing a student vaudeville show). While key words can be listed at the top of the resume as stated above, they should also appear sprinkled throughout the accomplishment statements,” Tuck advised.
“How do you look for a great deal on line, or any information? You do a search right? You put in specific keywords that will activate the search robots to pull all information with those specific keywords,” said SEO expert, Gabriella Sannino. “I would have [job or internship seekers] write a list of ‘keywords’ that would describe their strengths,” she recommended. “For example ‘researcher, business development, analytical thinking,’ etc., then I would use those specific keywords this way:
a. Primary (main keyword or key phrase given) research
b. Secondary (related topics) research statistics, research analyst
c. Tertiary (Variations of keyword or key phrase) statistical research, analysis research.”
As did Tuck, Sannino advises the use of keywords throughout the resume. Professional resume writer, Mike Slack, is in complete agreement with Tuck and Sannino.
“Writing a resume today means first getting through a computerized scanning process – pleasing a computer; and then getting the attention of the reader – pleasing a human. It is vitally important that key words be used in the body of the resume, flowing in a natural way. Then the software will pick them up without ‘turning off’ the hiring manager later on when he reads the resume,” said Slack.
“Concerning effectiveness, a resume without keywords is simply not effective and probably not worth the paper it is printed on,” he continued. “Keywords must be used, but they must be used naturally as part of the writing process. Keywords are especially important for those seeking government employment. All Federal resumes including the resume system used by the Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force for civilian employment, and the CHART format used by the Department of the Navy actively seek keywords as the first part of the screening,” Slack concluded.
According to what the experts have said, writing a keyword-rich resume is all a part of writing a resume that is tailored for a specific employer. Whether a college student’s internship resume is scanned by a human or a computer, using words that appeared in the job description will get his resume noticed.
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