Monday, September 10, 2007

Resume Search Optimization - Page 2

Have you ever felt that your resume goes into a black hole, and that no one ever looks at it?

Guess what, you’re probably right. If you’d like to do something to change that, read on…

Companies use databases to store and then pre-screen resumes, based on words in the resume itself – not the cover letter. In most cases, the cover letter gets stripped from your resume. On the other hand, most of us (Boomers, Gen X & Y) were taught to write a static resume, and customize with a cover letter. Sound familiar?

And it worked in the olden days of paper resumes. But in the internet age, where resumes are delivered electronically, loaded into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) database, and searched, the cover letter is stripped and not included in the search.

Throw out the teaching of old, and embrace a new more effective way of resume strategy – Resume Search Optimization.

If your resume is searched in a database, it’s searched for by keywords. Have you ever done a keyword search yourself? You probably do one every day of your life … it’s called Google. Companies pay big money to consultants to search optimize their web pages, to make them appear at the top of a Google search.

You can do the same thing with your resume. But it requires you to think a different way.

Start with a solid base resume that paints you as a subject matter expert in your field. Then take the job description, and load your resume with key words in the specific job description that you’re applying for. Since each company uses its own language and has its own priorities using a standard set of keywords doesn’t work very well today.

So how many resume templates will you have?

One for each job you apply to … because to search optimize your resume effectively, it turns your resume into a single use document. Each employer gets a heavily customized resume.

Yes, it takes more time per resume. But it gives you an unfair advantage, of gaming the ATS database, and forcing your resume to the top 2-3% more often. And gets your resume seen by humans … a much greater percentage of the time.

Basically, resume search optimization allows you to stack the odds in your favor.

Let’s contrast this to the way most of us were taught to write resumes - creating a static resume, focused with a cover letter. This strategy made sense when resumes were delivered on paper - they had to be static, because we took them to a print shop. So we were taught how to focus a static resume with a cover letter, because it would be unreasonable to go to Kinko’s to print a custom resume for each job we applied to.

The internet changed delivery methods to digital and flooded companies with candidates - it increased candidate competition. But on the plus side, digital resume delivery made it easy to highly customize a resume for a specific employer.

Using a static resume today, in a bad job market, where resumes are pre-screened by databases can be described as hoping the words on your resume will magically match the words a company is searching for ... pretty bad odds. These bad odds become even worse when there are 5-6 unemployed for every advertised job and when hundreds (or thousands) apply for each job advertised.

Is it any wonder that resume response rates are typically so low?

But still, this is the method that most candidates still use ... and defend fiercely. Why?

I think static resumes are a tradition that are so ingrained in our habits that it becomes difficult for many candidates to change. It’s how we were taught, it’s how we’ve always looked for jobs, and it worked last time we looked for a job.

But when was the last time you looked for a job? And what’s changed since then? Were digital resumes the norm, or did you send paper (or fax)? Was the job market decent, or was it the worst job market in 60 years like today’s market?

What motivates you more ... tradition, or a job?

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Related Articles:
Is your Cover Letter an Ineffective and Obsolete Tradition?
Differentiate Your Resume With a Winning Strategy: Fishing and Response Resumes

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