Job searching is an extremely difficult task.  Not only is it time consuming, but with so many changes in job searching strategies, it’s overwhelming and confusing.

In conversations with job seekers I mentor and reading posts on social media sites, I am seeing some common questions and confusion when it comes to using keywords in a resume.

Question #1 – Should my resume have the same keywords that the job description has?
Answer – As a recruiter, when I am looking at the job description, I not only look at what the job entails, but I am zoning in on the requirements listed.  When I’m sourcing and reviewing resumes, I do look for specific keywords that are the same as those listed in the requirements.  With that being said, it would benefit a job seeker to take information from a job description and include it into their resume, of course only if it’s relevant.  There could be a downfall to this method.  After receiving a job description, there’s usually a one on one conversation with the hiring manager to go over the hot buttons and top 3 to 5 skills they want to see on someone’s resume.  I can’t tell you how many times the job description and the information the hiring manager gives about the job end up being completely different.  If that’s the case and I am not able to make changes to the job description that’s been posted, the theory of putting what’s in the job into your resume won’t be successful.

Question #2 – Why are keywords so important to have on a resume?
Answer – Most resumes are being manually entered, scanned, or automatically loaded into some sort of database.  Whether it’s a corporate database, a staffing company database, or a job board website.  The database is one of the major tools being utilized when searching for qualified candidates.  The way recruiters search a database is using keyword searches.  There are lots of little tricks and strategies recruiters can use when doing keyword searches.  Having keywords on your resume can increase your chances of being found during a search.  If I have an opportunity for a Software Engineer with extensive experience using C# within the finance industry, I can tell you that the words “software engineer” will not be the keywords I use to start my search.  I would do a search for C# and Finance.    It’s important to include keywords that are related to industry and skills so you can increase the number of times your resume shows up in a search.

Question #3 – Do I have to use a different resume for every job I apply to?
Answer – I am sure that many of you are really hoping that the answer to this question is No, because I know how much work it is to change a resume every time you apply for a different job.  Who wants to add more work?  Well here’s the thing, you don’t “have to” use a different resume for every job you apply to, but, it will definitely benefit you if you change your resume to reflect the specific job you are applying to.  This doesn’t mean you need to completely revamp your whole resume every time.  If you see skills required for the job that you have but don’t have listed on your resume, then you should be adding those skills.  The next position may require different skills and experience that you may have, so yes, change your resume to match the position.  Same thing with a cover letter.  Your cover letter should be targeting the specific company and position you are applying for.   If you want to stand out over other job seekers then you will need to put in a little bit of extra work to make sure you are standing out.

Question #4 – Are keywords more important then resume format?
Answer – Keywords are just as important as resume format.  Resume format is important because managers are looking for good written communication skills and want to be able to read a resume quickly and easily.  A resume loaded with keywords can be tossed in a second if the format is not professional or hard to read.  A great looking resume can be tossed in a second if there aren’t keywords jumping off the paper.  So a good resume will have relevant keywords to the job you are applying for and be written in a professional, easy to read format.  That’s why using a resume writer can be so beneficial for people because it’s not necessarily easy to put a resume together.   There’s no rocket science to resume writing (that’s why I only charge $25.00 to write resumes), but as a recruiter of 11 years, resume writing is part of my expertise and I would say I have some inside scoop on resume writing.

I hope that these questions and answers help to clear up your keyword and resume challenges.

If you have a job search question that you would like to ask, email cori.recruiter@gmail.com with the subject heading:  Ask the Recruiter

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