Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

The keywords to success

PHILADELPHIA — In ancient Greece, priests gathered at the Temple of Apollo on Mount Parnassus, the better to interpret the deity-inspired prophecies of Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi.

Google, for all its omnipresence, is no deity, yet legions practice search-engine optimization in an effort to divine the secret algorithms that move certain websites to the top of an online search.

Now comes candidate optimization, essentially the same idea applied to job seekers, with services that help them tweak their resumes so they end up at the top of a list generated by a company's computerized talent-management system.

Hurdle No. 1? Dazzling the computers, which these days are more likely than people to be frontline resume readers.

"Computers have a very specific way that they look at resumes," said Jon Ciampi, founder of California-based Preptel Corp. For a subscription of $25 a month, Ciampi's 2-year-old company will help a candidate reconfigure a resume so a computer can better spot the qualifications that make that candidate a good match for the job.

With the recession and its lingering aftermath, the number of resumes generated for any job opening is so overwhelming that human-resource staffs can't handle them all. The U.S. Labor Department reported that in February there were 3.5 million job openings and 12.8 million people unemployed.

No wonder recruiters turn to software created by companies such as Kenexa Inc. in Wayne, Pa., a leader in the field.

"The volume is just too high," said Jeffrey Weidner, director of sourcing science at Kenexa, whose website describes a case study in which one wireless-communications company received 5 million resumes, leading to 50 hires.

In 2011, companies worldwide spent $3 billion on talent-management systems that scan and sort resumes, schedule interviews, track followups and incorporate social media, according to Bersin & Associates, a California consulting group that tracks the industry.

All this talent management may be efficient, but it can be tough for job seekers, who spend endless hours applying online, only to feel as if they've sent their resumes — and their hopes — into a realm impossible to divine.

"It's very frustrating," said Keith Conrad, a laid-off administrator who lost his Philadelphia city job in July. "You know you have a good resume. You know you have good experience, you see a good job, but you never get a chance to sell yourself."

Most counselors advise that the best way to get a job is networking, making connections through people you know. But there will remain some portion of the hunt that relies on online applications.

Given the new reality, applicants need to learn how to communicate with nonhuman recruiters. Keyword matching forms the basis of that communication, just as it does in web searches.

If the employer wants a programmer who knows Java, a computer language, it's easy enough to search resumes for the word. But included may be a resume from a not-so-computer-literate barista foaming cappuccino at Philadelphia Java Co.

When it was first developed, this type of software "could find the content in your resume, but it didn't find the context," said Weidner, who began his career in recruiting in 1995, those pre-Monster.com days when resumes were faxed.

Over time, algorithms have become more able to find context. A computer can look for other resume words indicating a programmer, such as other computer languages. The more matches, the higher a resume rises on a "relevance" list, Weidner said.

And it's not only the number of matches, but how far apart certain words are. For a programmer, it might be better to have Java near the word protocol, not cashier.

Ciampi said job seekers really need to prepare two categories of resumes: one for humans, the other for computers. For example, he said, a resume for humans might use the words career successes and accomplishments, but a computer scanner would rather see work experience.

Work history in a spreadsheet is unreadable for a computer, no matter how clear it is to a human. Computers, Weidner said, like to see company name, followed by title, dates and description of duties. Varying the format may confuse a computer.

Only the top 10 to 20 percent of resumes, those with the highest number of matches, make it through to a human for further consideration, Weidner said.

And all this assumes that the employers writing the job descriptions are actually capable of crafting postings that clearly reflect the skills and qualities needed for the jobs.

Conrad, the laid-off city administrator, describes himself as conscientious and capable, someone who takes pride in getting the details right.

"I'm a hard worker," he said. "I stay until the job gets done, but a computer will never pick that up."

Comments
Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Donít use the cruise control

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Donít use the cruise control

Associated PressDETROIT ó Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Associated PressFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday that the Fedís independence from political pressure must be respected if it is to succeed in controlling inflation, maximizing employment and regulating the financial system. His re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butler’s first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck — a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars. That’s why as Butler waited for a table at the Ford’...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

TAMPA ó A St. Petersburg man was fined $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in the offering of a penny stock in a case involving a scheme to manipulate the price of Aureus, a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada, officials said Fr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Times staff and wiresNEW YORK ó Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, bringing the median pay package for CEOs to $11.7 million. Across the S&P 500, compensation for CEOs is often hundreds of times highe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR ó Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."Itís got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. Thatís not bad." Indeed, thereís a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Updated: 7 hours ago
At Pinellas Parkís iconic model train store, an ownership change goes off the rails

At Pinellas Parkís iconic model train store, an ownership change goes off the rails

PINELLAS PARK ó The iconic model train store that has sat at U.S. 19 and Haines Road for close to 30 years announced on its website it will be moving to another location."Itís difficult trying to stock a store thatís bigger than the reality is these ...
Published: 05/25/18
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA ó Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didnít start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH ó Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers di...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW ó Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Published: 05/24/18