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Friday, February 21, 2014

Is Your Resume Getting Thrown In The Trash?


Keywords in Résumé Lead to Interviews

Eighty percent of all submitted résumés (and 100 percent of résumés sent to Fortune 1000 companies) get scanned by software commonly known as an applicant-tracking system (ATS), and such scanned résumés are stored on a server in a digitized format. Humans are seeing your résumé only if it resurfaces based on a query. That’s why most job applicants don’t receive responses from companies after submitting résumés. Therefore, in order to increase your résumé’s chances of being at least viewed by a human--even if it’s not thereafter considered suitable--you have to understand the process and beat them at their own game.

Human resources departments that use ATSs base their queries on keywords they lift from job descriptions or receive verbally from hiring managers. Based on that information, the ATS extracts appropriate résumés from the ones on file. The human resources employee’s query may result in just a few résumés or a vast number. The ATS also scores those résumés and sorts and prioritizes them. Then the employee reviews, say, 20 and submits 5 to be interviewed.

Your job is to ensure that you embed sufficient keywords in your résumé. So, what’s the best way to find those magical keywords? It’s a simple, albeit somewhat tedious, exercise.

1. Search the Internet via job boards such as Monster and The to find 5 to 20 job descriptions of jobs advertised in the field you’re interested in.

2. Cut and paste all of the descriptions one after another into a new Word document.

3. Review the document, resetting in boldface what you consider the keywords throughout.

4. Delete everything except the boldface words.

5. Alphabetize the words, and delete duplicates.

6. Copy your résumé into a new Word document, and repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 on that copy.

The two resulting lists will display which keywords from the descriptions are missing from your résumé. And now comes the creative part: you incorporate the missing keywords into your résumé so it seems seamless and a perfect match for the context in which the words are mentioned in the job descriptions.

By doing this admittedly laborious task, you increase manyfold your chances of being picked out from the crowd.
Guest Contributor:Alex Freund is the founder of Landing Expert–Career Coaching.(

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17 Post a Comment :

Resume said...

I would love to write and say what a great job you did on this, as you have put a lot of work into it.

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Anonymous said...

Great article which will increase candidate's chances of being found. One thing to note about the ATS is it will connect someone to the job they apply to. We aren't always using queries of the ATS to find the resume. If it's attached to a specific job we are recruiting for, we can see it without a query. The ATS will rank it based on relevancy to the job description for me if I ask it to and as you elude to...I absolutely look at the highest ranked resumes first. Great advice to job seekers, keep it up!

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Jan Arzooman said...

I have heard of this trend from various sources, and I'm assuming this practice does go on. What I'm wondering is, if an HR person wants to find the best person for the job but gets only resumes from lackluster candidates who have cut and pasted key words in strategic places on their resumes, wouldn't they begin to dig further to find OTHER resumes?

I can't believe they would simply toss out EVERY resume that doesn't match their key words.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that perhaps the only way to get your Resume before human eyes, is to play the Keywords Game. But that appears to be the way it is, so-be-it.

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Anonymous said...

A way I use to pick key words of from an advert, and make sure my CV is applicable, is to make use of

The specifically page used is

Job Search Guru said...

Interesting article. Lack of the right key words is not the only thing that will get you rejected. There's MUCH more to it. Non-text aspects of how you write your resume that can foul up the ATS parser!

Larry said...

Keywords definitely are critical in the automated resume tools.

It is often smart to follow up with a hard copy mailed or emailed resume with a strong cover letter, to give you more chances of getting through.

Nasir Zuberi said...

It is unfortunate that first we invented or created ATS to find perfect match and now we are trying to learn ways & means to dodge ATS. I look at this as a viscous circle or an act of hid and seek.
Automated sorting of CVs can save time of going through 100s of CVs, but doest it guarantee the Quality of candidate as one may be creative in copy-pasting the Keywords but would he/she be a expert in doing the job?
Still, thank you very much for helping us out with this write up.

Chris said...

Great post! Don't forget that keywords are important for helping your resume be found outside of an ATS as well. If you place your resume online, or even create a website for your professional profile, these keywords will help you show up in search results. Employers look everywhere for great talent. The hiring process is as reactive as it is active. So make sure that your resume is presentable AND easy to find.

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Richard said...

Great points and a reality check for some that didn't realize the interview goes to one with the best keywords not the best candidate.

You really do need to have a baseline resume template saved and have a paragraph in at that allows the flexibility to send a customized resume to each position you target to get those keywords hits.

It's not that frustrating on the HR /Recruiting side as they stopped thinking a long time ago.

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Anonymous said...

Extremely convoluted and stupid way to add keywords to a resume. The correct and easy way is to read and re-read the job description of the job you are applying to and add the key words from this description into your resume. Simple.

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