The job market has gotten more competitive. Hundreds of applicants are applying for each job and those same job applicants are expected to not only meet the minimum requirements, but demonstrate significant skills related to the job description. So what can you do? Increase your chances of getting an interview by tailoring your resume. How do you tailor your resume? By pulling the keywords from the job description and using them in your resume and your cover letter.
Tailoring Your Resume
Now, I’m assuming if you are reading this you have a strong resume that is focused in the field you are applying to. For me, it’s marketing. For others it might be IT. Regardless of field it’s important to pay attention to detail. Remember to include your accomplishments instead of your skills. For example, “Managed over 8,000 marketing projects resulted in a 35% increase in sales over the past year” would be a great inclusion. This will give the hiring manager something tangible to latch onto. If you are able to add in results driven data in your resume make sure to do so. This could be the difference between getting a call for an interview, and being thrown into the pile.
There are several reasons to tailor your resume:
- Your resume might be scanned by an automatic system searching for keywords
- A HR recruiter might be looking at your resume searching for those keywords
- No keyword stuffing or overdoing it, HR will pick up on that tactic and pitch your resume
How to find the keywords:
- Highlight the keywords in the job description
- Create your own word cloud to identify the most important words
Most of the keywords you are looking for are in the job summary and description. Usually the keywords are nouns and adjectives, but it doesn’t hurt to use some verbs in the description like managed, initiated, etc. Just mix them up.
Find Keywords in the Job Description
Once I have my keywords I will scan my resume to see if I can replace similar words. I will then go back and look at the keywords and job description, and see if there are any new accomplishments I should add that will demonstrate that I have done a particular skill listed on the job description. Finally, I go through my resume and remove any accomplishments or other information that is not related to the job that I am applying to. This way I stay focused and create more white space.
Find Keywords Using a Word Cloud
You can also use a word cloud by copying the job description and requirements (if you like) into a word cloud program. I use Wordle.net, but you can also Google “word cloud” and find other programs. From there you can paste the job description and/or requirements into the word cloud program and hit enter. There will be a lot of words. The larger the word the more often it has been used in the document and the more important it is. These large and medium words are what you want to use in your resume. Just make sure you still look at the actual description before applying those keywords into your resume.
Below is a brief excerpt of a real life Communications Manager job description. The words highlighted in blue are some of the important keywords to use in a resume.
Communications Manager Job Description:
Responsibilities Include: Work directly with key HR business partners to develop communications strategy and tactics that support overall plan/program and enterprise goals. Direct major communications initiatives from concept to execution. Responsibilities may include comprehensive communications strategy development, key message development, writing and designing materials, efficient utilization of employee communications channels, and coordination of reviews, approvals and distribution of materials.
Collaborate across communications teams to ensure programs are in sync with enterprise communications strategy and tailored by lines of business when needed. Work with internal and external graphic and video service providers. Lead cross-functional communications project teams.
Tailoring your resume will increase your chances of getting an interview, but like anything else there are no guarantees. It’s very important to tap your network and it wouldn’t hurt to sign up with a couple staffing recruitment agencies, preferably ones that specialize in your field. You increase your odds when you apply several different approaches during your job search. Best of luck.
About the Author
Jessica Bigger is a freelance copywriter that has written dozens of blogs about real estate, historic architecture, and career search tips, as well as unique events like the internationally renowned Kinetic Sculpture Race in Humboldt County, CA. She has written hundreds of press releases for radio and nonprofits, and copy for real estate brochures, fliers, and websites. She currently lives in the DC area with her family.