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:

Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

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Do I Want To Be An Open Networker On LinkedIn?

Dear RSL,

I see you are a member of an open networking group on LinkedIn. I joined that group partly because I
saw you there.  I’ve also joined some other open networking groups, but many of them seem so “spammy” and it seems like all a lot of them do is promote connection invites. I’m not getting the point of that unless that’s the only purpose.  So… which groups do you belong to and why?

You’re right; I am an open networker on LinkedIn.  What that means is that I accept all invites sent to me.  As for the open networking groups, their primary purpose is for open networkers to grow their networkers
and connect with other “like minded” open networkers or LIONS (LinkedIn Open Networkers).  I started off on LinkedIn about 5 years ago and from the start I have been an open networker.  There are different schools of thought on open networker with some wanting to only connect with people that they know personally, others want to only connect with others in their area of expertise and others like myself who will accept invites from anyone.

Why am I an open networker?  As a recruiter the biggest part of my job is building relationships and networking.  Over the years I have recruited professionals with a wide array of skill sets.  By being an open networker I have been able to not only connect with people as first connections, but by connecting it also allows me to be able to contact their connections if I want to.  So, it may not be my direct connection I’m looking to recruit or network with, but their connection.

As for the different groups that I am in on LinkedIn and why, I am in a number of different groups and they primarily fall into 3 categories.  The first category contains groups that are related to the types of positions that I’m recruiting for at the moment.  These categories will change periodically and you will notice at the moment they are focused primarily on Engineering and IT.

The second set of groups that I belong to on LinkedIn is centered around my resume writing business so you will notice that I belong to a few groups for Resume Writers.  These groups allow me to connect with others in my industry where we exchange ideas and ask each other’s questions.   I also belong to various job seekers groups and HR groups.

The third set of groups that I belong to on LinkedIn is related to my blogging.  These groups are for people like me who keep up with a blog and enjoy writing

To make LinkedIn Groups work for you is to determine what it is you want to do on LinkedIn and from there join appropriate groups.


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

Other ways to connect with RSL:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn: Resume Survis Lady


I’m Still 29… How Old Are You?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I am an “older” professional that has been displaced and have found myself unexpectedly in the job market.  I am worried that my age is going to hinder my ability to get a job.  What do I do if they ask me how old I am?

Before I answer this question, let me just start with a disclaimer that I am not an attorney or am I an expert on employment law.   Now that I have that out of the way we can get back to the question.  First of all, it is illegal for an employer or potential employer to discriminate against
someone due to age.  A “Best Practice” for industries is to avoid any questions that could be construed as trying to determine the age of the candidate.  This can include questions such as “What year did you graduate?” or “When did you go to college?”  The job interview should be
focused on previous experience, job skills and future goals.

Best practices aside, I have heard stories from others in the job market that they have been asked during the course of an interview how old they are, so I’m not going to say that it’s never going to happen.  What I can tell you is that age discrimination can be extremely hard to prove and the burden of proof would fall on you to prove that discrimination existed.  What you will need to decide if asked a question that is perceived as trying to determine your age is: what is the intent the question is being asked with?  Are they trying to purposely use your age to
discriminate?  And if they are, are they a company that you would want to work for?  But you’re not asking how to determine if age discrimination occurred or how to prove age discrimination so I’ll leave that one for the labor lawyers.

Back to what you should do if you’re asked how old you are.  It’s really quite simple.  If someone asked me how old I was during an interview, I would reply, with a smile on my face: “I’m still 29, how old are you?”

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: Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady through twitter:  resumesurvisldy her LinkedIn group: Resume Survis Lady and on Facebook:

White Texting Is Like Hiding Your Vegetables….Huh????

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I just read your post about adding keywords to your resume and I understand the concept.  What is your opinion on “white texting” within a resume?  Will that help me get noticed?

First of all, for those of you that don’t know what “white texting” is, it’s the practice of adding a bunch of keywords at the base of a resume and having the text be colored white so that the words are invisible to the naked eye but a computer will hit on them and pull back the resume during a keyword search.  Now as for if it will help you get noticed, it will but necessarily in a good way.

Have you ever heard a story about how someone’s child hid their veggies in a napkin or fed them to the dog because their parents told them
they had to eat them but they didn’t want to? Maybe you did this as a child? To avoid actually eating them they come up with a way to conceal the evidence so to speak to make it look like they ate them and appease their parents.  White texting is a little bit like that food hidden in a napkin.  It’s a dirty little secret way of trying to cover up experience that one might not actually have and make themselves look better to a potential employer.  When I pull back a resume and I cannot find the keywords or experience that I am looking for, the first thing I do is go to
the bottom of the resume and highlight it to see if there are any hidden words there.   9 times out of 10 the key words I was looking for can be found this way.   Are you getting the picture that I don’t like white texting?

When I come across a resume that contains white text, the first thing I do is scrutinize the resume.  If the keywords I’m looking for are not actually in the resume does this candidate even have the experience that I’m looking for?  Chances are they do not.  My next question as I’m looking through the resume is: “what else are they hiding or being dishonest about?”  Job seekers, if you have certain experience, put it in your resume, don’t hide it.  If you’ve taken the time to research what keywords are important and want to include them so your resume will get hits, find a way to incorporate them into your resume.  This could be in your objective, work experience, technology; adding them to any of these sections would work.  If you’re not sure how to do incorporate the keywords you’ve identified, consult a resume writer.  I happen to know a  good one.

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: or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn:

Know Your Recruiter: The Specialized World of Third Party Recruiting

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

 I posted my resume online and I have had a few third party recruiters contact me.  What exactly is a third-party recruiter and how does a third-party recruiter differ from a Corporate Recruiter

For this question I have turned to an expert in third-party recruiting:  Todd Nilson.  Todd is managing director of Social Syntax, a social media strategy, governance and analytics firm with specialized  expertise in employer branding. He is also the founder of the Milwaukee JobCamp events. You can read his personal blog at:

If you’re in a job search, it’s important to remember that not every recruiter you will encounter works in the same way. While some recruiters work as full-time employees of a corporation, you’ll find a much larger number of what’s known in industry jargon as third-party recruiters.

Why is it important to know the distinction? Third party recruiters are compensated in a completely different way than corporate recruiters. Think of a third-party recruiter as a recruiter-for-hire, someone who companies go to because their internal recruiters don’t have enough time or have too many requisition or the hiring need is simply too specialized for the internal team to handle. Companies pay for third-party recruiters as a matter of expediency.

A third-party recruiter may work for a staffing firm, as part of a boutique or search firms, or as an independent businessperson.

How does it work?

Since a third-party recruiter is not an employee of the company doing the hiring, third-party recruiters usually have some sort of financial arrangement with a company called a search agreement.  Leaving aside contract work, third-party recruiters are usually compensated in one of two ways: contingency and retained search agreements.

In a retained search agreement, the recruiter is paid a portion of a search fee to engage in the search up front. The remainder of the fee is disbursed to the recruiter upon the successful completion of a search assignment—namely, when you’ve been hired. Retained searches usually reside at the upper end of the search spectrum, where companies are engaged in a highly confidential search for a new C-level executive. These searches require recruiters with skills at the top of their game and often a highly specialized network of candidates.

As you might imagine, retained searches are in the minority.

Far more frequently the case, contingency searches also involve the payment of a fee based on a percentage of the hired person’s starting salary, but there is no up front cost to the employer to engage services. By contrast, where retained searches are usually given exclusively to just one recruiter or firm, a contingency search is typically given to two, three or even dozens of recruiters depending upon how savvy the company doing the hiring is or how many requirements they’ve got to hire for.

What do I need to know when working with third-party recruiters?

 Knowing payment terms for third-party recruiters is one key to making it a successful relationship. Most of the fees paid to third-party recruiters are significant amounts to the companies paying them, so there is a guarantee period. In many cases, if you are hired via a third-party recruiter and leave the job within the first few months, that recruiter has to refund all of that fee if he or she cannot find a suitable replacement. When you work with a third-party recruiter, therefore, understand that it is in that recruiter’s best interests to make sure you are sincere about accepting an offer of employment and that you feel as certain as you can be that it will be a good company for your career growth.

Most third-party recruiters develop a sixth sense about candidates who are just “shopping” for a new job. If you’re just looking and not seriously committed to your search for a new position, a solid third-party recruiter will confront you about it (hopefully in a nice way) in an effort to protect his or her own time.

A large benefit of working with third-party recruiters is that they tend to have a wide breadth of companies engaging their services. Some of these recruiters work a particular geography or industry segment and tend to have deep connections with a handful of premiere client companies.

Another big plus to working with third-party recruiters is that they can serve as an additional buffer in the dreaded salary discussion process for a job offer. The third-party recruiter is not a disinterested party. In most cases, his or her compensation is directly impacted by the amount of your base salary offer. Treating the third-party recruiter as an advisor, just as you might consult an attorney about your taxes or your lawyer about a legal case, can result in a better, faster offer since most recruiters on this side of the business already know about a tolerable salary range for the position you’ve applied for and can tell you if your expectations are consistent with that range. They understand that range not only from what the hiring company has shared with them, but they also know what the market bears due to the nature of their experience working with many other companies.

Finally, think for a moment about contingency searches. The recruiter is only paid after a successful placement. Successful placements often take months, representing many hours of unpaid work with the promise of a payoff in the form of a placement. Candidates who back out of a search prematurely or are perceived to waste time will be remembered. Take care when working with these recruiters, because they have a long memory and talk frequently to other recruiters in their industry space!

However, managing a friendly relationship over the years with one or more third-party recruiters can make a large difference in your job search. Their broad understanding of industry segments and variety of search assignments make them good people to know and interact with on a regular basis.

Todd’s personal blog can be found at:

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: or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:

How Do I Get Started With My Job Search?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m just starting my job search and not really sure how to get started.  Can you make some suggestions?

The start of a job search can be scary and a bit intimidating but it can also be exciting and a little fun if you do a little research and planning.  There are a lot of questions you need to determine the answers to at the start such as:  Are you staying in the same field?  Are you looking for a lateral move or a promotion?  Are you looking for a higher salary?  Are you open to relocation or do you prefer to commute from your current location?  Is your resume up to date?  Once you have the answers to these questions you are ready to move on to the next step.

The next step in starting a job search is once you’ve determined what you want to do and what type of position you want to target, start doing some research on companies that you are interested in.  When I say research, I don’t just mean going to their website and looking t information and open positions listed there.  I mean also going to LinkedIn and looking up employees that work there.  You will want to take special note of any that appear to be in the field or department you are interested in or Human Resources/Recruiting for later use.  Take a look at their  LinkedIn profiles to find out what their upward mobility has been with the company.  Do they appear to have an upward trajectory or do they seem to be stagnant in their current position?  That will give you a good insight the list of companies you are interested in to 10.

Once you have your top 10 companies identified, the fun begins.  Visit their career websites to see if there are any positions posted that you are qualified and interested in.  While on their career website, check to see if you can create a profile and set up agents to be notified of new  positions as they become available.  Once you’ve found a position, make sure to submit your resume and cover letter, YES COVER LETTER with both of them customized to the position.  Congratulations, you have completed the first step in the application process.

What?  Only the first step?  Yes.  Once you submit an application, you’re not done.  Remember researching LinkedIn to find people that work at the company?  You will want to use that information here.  Use LinkedIn to email those that appear to be a part of the hiring process for the position that you applied to and network with them.  Send them you resume and let them know you are interested in what they do for the company and what the culture is there.  Build a relationship with them.  It’s always a bonus if you have an internal cheerleader!

Best of luck on your job search!

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

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