Make us your home page

Tips to optimize your resume



What is optimization, and what does it have to do with your resume?

Optimization is the action of making the most effective use of a resource. Let's be honest: Google is magic. Enter a few keywords and, tada, it returns a list of local bakeries that deliver your favorite cupcakes. The truth is, it's not really magic. Those bakeries likely had content containing keywords on their site. Google algorithms sliced and diced the internet and gave you the most relevant results.

You've probably heard of optimization before, likely in the context of search engine optimization. The trick many job seekers are missing is creating a resume that includes keywords that will optimize their chances of being found. When you apply to a job and upload your resume, you're instantly added to a database. In today's fast-paced, digital environment, companies scour those databases daily looking for someone like you. Those databases are also resume search engines that recruiters enter keywords into for the role they need to fill. Will they find you? If you use optimization techniques, absolutely. Here are some tips to get you started.

Read descriptions

Set time aside to search for jobs you wish to apply for and take notes. How is the title of the position phrased, and are there variations? What are the requirements listed? Are there nice-to-have skills? Specific software experience? Project types or industry markets that you have a background in? Pay close attention to frequently used words and related phrases.

Use keywords

Based on your research, carefully examine each section of your resume's work history. Are those keywords and phrases included? Incorporate a combination of them throughout your resume where applicable. Are you a nurse? Include RN, registered nurse and other keywords commonly used to identify you. Are you a bookkeeper? Include keywords such as A/P, A/R, general ledger, payroll and software programs that can help locate you. Imagine you're the recruiter: How would you search for a professional like yourself?

Relevancy matters

Resumes aren't one-size-fits-all, but they should always define the job you want. Place emphasis on past positions with specific keywords and skills that are relevant to the opportunity you're applying for. The most recent position should be relevant, and found at the top of your resume. Adding job titles in your work history can also boost relevancy score.

Replace your career objective

The career objective can become generic if not done properly. Instead, try a skill summary or bulleted list as an introduction. Make it easy for hiring managers to see who you are right away, and what you bring to the table.

Keep it simple

Leave out images and graphics. For creative fields, many might disagree. But the simple fact is that resume databases can't interpret fancy backgrounds and borders. What these databases are looking for is text, which is why keywords are so important. Instead of graphics, add an additional sheet with work samples, or include a link to an online portfolio.

Include contact info

Make sure your name, current phone number and email are at the top. Also include your city, state and zip code. Resume databases are almost always searched by proximity. You can even add a link to your LinkedIn. Don't include your references; save that for after the interview.


Spell-check and proofread! The database may miss keywords that are misspelled. It's also a terrible first impression and your credibility will suffer.

Upload and preview

I can't tell you how many times we've accidentally received a tax form or other personal document. Preview the document to make sure it uploaded properly and it's the correct one. An optimized resume holds the power to persuade and influence hiring managers to look at you amongst the sea of resumes they come across. You know the old saying "when opportunity knocks." Well, you don't want to see your opportunities knock on someone else's door. I hope these tips help you gain more traction in your job search. Happy hunting!

Leah Stevens is the operations manager of Davron Staffing Inc. The Tampa-based firm recruits technical experts in engineering, architecture and construction. Go to for more information.

Tips to optimize your resume 02/08/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 1:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
 file photo]

  2. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  3. International array of artists chosen as finalists for pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  4. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000


    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  5. HSN star Joy Mangano promotes new book: Inventing Joy


    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than 30 years, Joy Mangano knows a thing or two about promoting products. Now she's promoting herself.

    Inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano is releasing her first new book, Inventing Joy on Nov. 7. [TIERRA SMITH | Times]