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.
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.
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?
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 Davron.net for more information.