More industries are using “search engine optimization” – “SEO” – in their recruiting efforts, which includes identifying specific keywords within resumes to find just the right hire, talent acquisition professionals say.
So it’s worth considering: Is your resume keyword-rich, allowing it to rise to the top of the pile and help you land a great new job?
“Recruiters use SEO word searches to find candidates with the desired qualifications for a role based on the keywords in their resumes,” Jill Chapman, director of early talent programs at Insperity and based in Houston, Texas, told FOX Business.
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“These SEO keywords are often based on the language used in the job posting,” she explained.
How you can use SEO to get a resume noticed
Ideally, you should tailor a resume and cover letter to the language of the job posting when applying for a job, dropping in the pertinent keywords, Chapman said.
The same can apply to creating your LinkedIn profile or a personal website.
You can also add the most common terms associated with an industry in general, Chapman noted.
That might mean listing specific skills, experiences or credentials recruiters seek in a strong candidate generally.
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“By using the right language, candidates increase the likelihood a recruiter will see their resume,” Chapman said.
Why is it vital for a resume to include keywords?
Due to time constraints or high application numbers, recruiters may use SEO word searches to narrow down the applicant pool significantly, according to Chapman.
For this reason, it’s crucial for applicants to be a part of that pool if they want to stand out, she added.
“Just as a Google search will return results based on the search terms used, a search within an applicant tracking system will return resumes that fit the terms the recruiter is searching,” Chapman noted.
“If candidates don’t use relevant language in their resume or application, their resume may never find its way in front of a recruiter, especially if the recruiter receives hundreds of applications for a role,” she also said.
How do SEO and applicant tracking systems work?
SEO searches often take place within an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) — software that recruiters, employers and HR managers use to track and manage candidates during the recruiting and hiring process, according to Chapman.
“These searches through ATS automatically scan resumes for keywords relevant to a job,” she said.
Many large employers use these tracking systems to manage recruitment due to the high volume of applicants, she noted.
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“Some recruiters may rely on the automated search function to show them the right candidates, while others may prefer manual searches with the system,” Chapman also said.
Why is it important to use truthful keywords on a resume?
You should only put truthful experiences, educational information and talents on your resume, experts say.
“Recruiters have much practice in identifying falsehoods in resumes and skill gaps,” Raleigh, North Carolina-based Liz Hogan, digital partnerships manager with Find My Profession, told FOX Business.
“Due to the use of ATS, there has been a rise in the inclusion of skills and experiences in a resume that are not necessarily possessed by the job seeker,” she added.
In the past, a trend also arose in which job seekers included the exact job posting at the bottom their resume in white-colored font, in order to “trick” the ATS, Hogan said.
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However, every job seeker must take into account that a human recruiter will eventually review the resume and potentially interview the candidate, she stressed.
Is a professional needed to create an SEO-friendly resume?
You can certainly try to create a targeted resume with SEO keywords by looking up how-to guides on writing a targeted resume for your particular industry, say experts.
“It will require much research, effort and time, but an individual can create a good, targeted resume,” Hogan said. “I would recommend this for entry-level positions.”
When applying for a senior position, however, such as an executive or director role, Hogan recommended getting professional help, as the stakes are higher.
Other situations in which Hogan recommends a professional’s resume skills include “applying for your dream role at your dream company” or “transitioning into a completely different industry.”
A professional with experience in these areas “can produce a targeted resume much more quickly” — allowing you to “throw your hat in the ring before the job posting is closed,” she added.
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