Keywords, Keywords and More Keywords!!!

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to update my resume and I’m sure there have been a lot of changes with how to format a resume and what you need to put on it.  I want to maximize the number of times my resume is reviewed and I’ve heard adding keywords are the way to do it.  What are keywords and how do I incorporate them into my resume? 

Ahhh….keywords!  I love keywords!  First of all let me start by explaining what keywords are for those who may not know.  Most resumes are now submitted and stored electronically.  This would include resumes that you upload to a job board such as CareerBuilder or Monster or a profile that you have created online on a site such as LinkedIn.  For most positions you apply to, you will also be applying online through what is known as a company’s “Applicant Tracking System” or ATS for short.  This would be when you visit a company’s career website and apply to a position that
is listed on their site.  All electronic databases have the ability to search the resumes stored through entering keywords or search strings.  Think of it like a search engine such as Google.  If you go to the Google home page to search for a specific product or specific information, you would enter your search string of keywords and hit enter to see your results.  It’s the same with electronic resume banks.  A potential employer can use a search feature to enter specific keywords of things they are looking for.  This could be something like CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager) to PE (Plant Engineer) to Automation experience, etc.

So, should you use keywords in your resume?  ABSOLUTELY! One of the biggest mistakes I see with resumes that are not professionally written is the absence of keywords.  A great example of this is when you list your employment history.  Do you have the industry listed or what each company does? This is an area that is often overlooked when writing a resume.  If a recruiter is looking for someone who has experience in the “specialty chemical” arena, they will often use keywords like: Chem, specialty chemical, specialty chem, chemical.  If you do not have it listed in your resume,
your resume will not be pulled back.

There are different ways that you can include keywords into your resume.  The first would be to include them in the body of your resume as you are writing it.  Enter a short “blurb” about the company after you list it on your resume such as:

XYZ Company, Milwaukee, WI                                                                                                 4/2006-11/2010

XYZ Company is a Recruitment Process
Outsourcing (RPO) company known as a global pioneer of innovative and uniquely
effective talent sourcing and strategy for its clients.

 You can also create a keyword section at the bottom of your resume where you can list in succession all the keywords that are not already listed in your resume:

Manage, Strategic, automation, DCS

There is no limit as to how many keywords you can add to your resume.  Just make sure that the keywords you enter are relevant to your experience.  The goal of submitting any resume electronically; be it to a job board or through an ATS for a position that you are applying to, is to have your resume reviewed.  Having keywords in your resume will help to ensure your resume is not overlooked during the initial screening process.

What has been your experience with keywords?

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your
questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

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Is There Something Wrong With My Resume?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

Is there something wrong with my resume?  I’ve applied to over 100 jobs over the past 6 months and have gotten only a handful of responses which haven’t led anywhere.  I understand that I don’t have a lot of “real world experience,” but I do have an MBA along with 5 internships.  I’m at my wit’s end; any help would be greatly appreciated!

It can be extremely frustrating when you’re putting a lot of time and effort into something, in this case your job search, and getting very little in return.  Let me start by asking a few questions.  What type of positions are you applying to?  Are you sending out a generic resume for each position you are applying to?  What type of networking and self marketing have you done?

Let’s start with the positions that you are applying to.  With 5 internships, you’ve probably accumulated about 1-2 years of “real world experience” so you will want to make sure to target your search for positions that require a degree and require minimal experience.  If you are interested in a position but it’s requiring 5 or more years of experience, I can pretty much guarantee you will not get a call for an interview.  Know your skills.  Make sure the positions that you are applying to are positions that you are qualified.  Often times I have clients wonder why they’re not getting calls on positions they’ve applied to only to find out after some probing that they are applying to positions that “sound like something I’d be good at” but in reality do not have any of the required experience.

Have you changed up your resume for the different types of positions you are applying to or are you sending out the same resume for each
position?  Are you including a cover letter?  In addition to writing a customized cover letter for each position, it’s also very important that you customize your resume for each position that you apply to.  When I say customize, I mean change your heading to the title of the position that you are applying to, change your summary/objective to match the position and make sure your bullet points are showcasing the things that you have done in past positions that make you a strong candidate for the one you are applying to.  You want your resume to be focused.   If you need help, you might want to talk to a professional resume writer for ideas or take a resume writing class that teaches you how to customize your resume for each position.

Have you started networking yet?  No one can market yourself with more passion than you.  Make sure you join professional networks like LinkedIn or professional organizations in your area.  I can’t tell you how often I hear from people who have found their job through networking; myself included.  The last two positions I’ve had were due to being on LinkedIn, the jobs found me.  Don’t be afraid to join groups on LinkedIn or other professional organizations and be active.  These are professionals all there to help each other.  Ask questions and learn from others.

Is there something wrong with your resume?

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Do I add a photo to my resume?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I was talking to a Professional Resume Writer and he suggested I add a picture to my resume.  I had never heard of this before.  Is this something new and I’m behind the times?

I have started to see more and more resumes come through with pictures on them, however they are still very few and far between on them.  So no, I don’t think you’re behind the times with that one.  My personal opinion regarding photos on resumes is to save the photos for your LinkedIn profile but leave them off your resume.  Why?  I left my opinion out of it as I posted this question in one of the many Recruiting groups I belong to on LinkedIn. What I found was the responses I received echoed my own thoughts on the matter.

Before I get into the reasons, I just want to remind everyone that I am NOT an attorney.  Now that we have that business out of the way, let’s talk about why there should not be pictures on resumes.  The first reason you will want to leave your picture off your resume is because most electronic means by which you will be submitting your resume for a position will not be able to read the photo and will instead replace it with gibberish.  When your resume is read electronically and comes across something it cannot interpret, it turns that into a bunch of symbols, numbers and letters which in turn takes out the formatting of your resume and makes it very difficult for the person on the other end of the resume.  If the recruiter or hiring manager cannot read your resume, they will not be able to give your resume proper consideration.

The second reason you will want to leave your picture off of your resume is that if it does make it intact through an electronic applicant tracking system, your resume might not be looked at due to the fear of discrimination based on what you look like.   Again, I am NOT an attorney.  If you submit a resume with your picture on it, there could be pre conceived notions about age, race, etc.    So, if it’s notice during the application process that there is a picture file attached, they will not open or consider the resume to avoid what could be perceived by others as a bias.

So why is a picture okay on LinkedIn but not on a Resume?  The answer might surprise you.  A LinkedIn profile is not considered an  application however a resume that’s been submitted for a position is considered to be expressing interest in the position.  In simpler terms, it’s the difference between being an applicant and being a social networker.

Bottom line, leave the photos off your resume and instead put them to good use on your LinkedIn profile for networking purposes.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, or have her help you with your resume, email her at: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Just a few resume hints….Please!!!

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m trying to update my resume and I’m getting lots of suggestions from friends.  What are a few “little” things I can do that will really make a difference?

There are so many “little” things that you can do to improve a resume, where do I start!  Let’s just go with the basics for now and if you have additional questions I can address them in another post.

Let’s start with the formatting of your resume.  Everyone wants their resume to look nice and look professional, so what do they do?  Insert tables to showcase skills or insert bold blocks of color running along the side of their resume.  I’ll agree, these resumes do look nice in a word.doc or on paper.  However, if you submit your resume through an electronic means, the tables and blocks of color become distorted and are often times changed into a weird “alien” language.  In addition, the majority of the formatting of your resume will be lost when your resume is uploaded.  So, what’s the solution?  Leave out tables and blocks of color.  Keep your resume simple.  If you feel the need to add someone other than words, add lines.  As a recruiter, when I get these resumes I just cringe.  I’m sure the person who wrote it spent a lot of time on and effort on creating the resume, however they usually take me about three times longer to try to read through to ensure I’m not missing anything.

In addition to staying away from blocks and tables, something else that you will want to include would be a section on technology.  In this section, you will want to include all of the technology that you have used and/or have been trained on.  This will include such common things as Microsoft Office Suite (you might even go one step further to name the specific program such as Microsoft Excel) or something more job specific such as SAP, BrassRing, Lotus Notes, etc.  You would also want to include such things as LinkedIn, twitter and Facebook if you use them.

Good luck on the resume writing!

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Help!!! Who do I follow up with?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m totally confused at this point on how and who to follow-up with directly after filling out an application and submitting a resume online.   Aside from following-up with HR to be sure they have your information, what advice can you give on taking it a step further?

Finding out who the hiring manager is and following-up directly with that person seems to be logical, but isn’t always the best scenario. I’ve had some people react very badly (rude and abrupt reaction to a direct call) and that has kind of made me think twice about this approach.

This is a great question and one I get often.  I hear from many clients that they have been told to find out who the hiring manager or decision maker is regarding the position they have applied to and contact them directly.  From my experience working with hiring managers, this is only a good idea if you either know the hiring manager personally or if you have a direct connection to the hiring manager through a friend or acquaintance.  Typically, hiring managers are extremely busy and don’t like dealing with tasks that they consider to be “HR’s” responsibility and that includes communication with candidates and status updates. 

Candidates that have interviewed for a position are a different story.  If you’ve already had an interview with the hiring manager, it’s completely acceptable, in fact I encourage for you to follow up with the hiring manager by sending a Thank You note after your interview thanking them for their time and letting them know your interest level in the position.  Now days, in the age of technology, it’s completely acceptable to  send a Thank You note via email if you have their email address or via professional networking such as LinkedIn.  Once the Thank You note has been sent, your next follow up is with the recruiter or the person that made the initial contact with you for the position.

I got sidetracked, back to the original question of who to follow up with.  If you’ve submitted your resume/application and have not heard anything back after 1-2 weeks, it is acceptable to follow up with the HR department/recruiter to make sure that your application has been received and to ask where your resume is at in the process.  During this initial follow up, I would also ask the recruiter if for future communication they prefer to communicate via email or the phone.  A rule of thumb with this is that if the recruiter’s initial contact with you is via email, they probably prefer to communicate via email and if their initial contact is via phone, they probably prefer phone.  Moving forward, you’ll know which method of communication to use with them.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Addresses on resumes?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

With everyone using the internet to submit their resume and email to communicate, is it necessary to put my full street address on my resume?

I have to say, this is a question I have never been asked before in my 10+ years of resume writing and recruiting.  I have always included full addresses on resumes that I have written, so I needed to do a bit of research before I felt I could answer this question.

I went through and read everything I could on the pros and cons of including the full address on a resume.  It really is a personal call as to if this information should be included or not.  After I finished reading up on the matter, I asked some hiring managers what their thoughts were regarding addresses on a resume, but more on hiring manager’s views in a moment.  First I will address the cons of including addresses on resumes.

The biggest negative I could find with including addresses is around privacy.  If the resume was to fall into the wrong hands, there’s the possibility that their privacy and/or security could be breached.  I have to admit, the only resumes I have ever seen without an address are those received from an agency recruiter who doesn’t want me to contact the candidate without their knowledge.  The second negative I found was that including the street address on a resume could be seen as being outdated, not technically up to date and instead just be sure to include cell phone, email and LinkedIn profile addresses.  The final con that I was able to find was for candidates that want to relocate to where the position is located and do not want to be removed from the applicant pool based on where they currently live.

By including an address on a resume, you are providing the recruiter and hiring manager a complete picture.  When there are pieces missing off of a resume that are usually there, I start to think that the candidate is trying to hide something and there resume gets extra scrutiny.   I also spoke with a few different hiring managers regarding their views of including or excluding addresses on a resume.  What the overwhelming consensus was is that they want to see the address on the resume.  Without that address, many hours could be spent on the candidate before realizing that relocation might be needed or that the candidate is interviewing with the hope that they will be able to work remote within a few months of starting.

I’m curious as to your thoughts.  Do you currently have your address included on your resume?  Until I have a compelling reason not to, I am going to continue including addresses on the resumes I write for my clients.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

The Cover Letter Mystery

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

What do I need to include in my cover letter or is it no longer necessary to have a cover letter?

While a cover letter is not required, it definitely is a nice thing to have.  Think of it like the bow on top of a present.  It’s not something that is required, but it brings everything together and makes it look good.  The same can be said for a cover letter, it pulls together your resume, the position you are applying for and why you are interested in the position.

Now that it’s decided a cover letter is a good idea, what all needs to be included?  First and foremost you are going to want to individualize each cover letter for each position that you apply for.  Remember a few posts back when I talked about key words in resumes?  Well, key words are also important in cover letters.  You will want to make sure that you read, read and re-read the job description of the position that you are applying for, highlighting the key skills that are listed.  Once you have the skills highlighted, you will want to incorporate them into your cover letter and how they match up with your experience. 

Another tip with cover letters is to use the same or similar verbiage in your cover letter that was used in the job description.  Often times when recruiters are searching their database of past applicants, they will use verbiage or phrases used in the job description in their search.  Using their verbiage will help to ensure that your resume comes up in their search.

In addition to skills and keywords taken from the job description, be sure to include why you feel you would be a good fit for the position. If the position would require relocation, state why you’re open to relocation.

Now that you know what needs to be included in your cover letter, time to get busy!

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

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