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Optimize Your Job Search
November 2010

Do you ever submit your résumé directly to employers or job boards and feel like it got lost in a black hole?

Today, you may have your résumé on job boards, personal web pages, or social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Chances are your résumé is not properly optimized for internet search engines and applicant tracking systems. In the same way search engines like Google use keywords to rank websites in accordance to which is most relevant, applicant tracking systems look at content in résumés to identify keyword matches for the job descriptions and qualifications. By making sure your résumé is full of specific keywords applicable to the type of job you are seeking, your results will show in the top listings of search engines and applicant tracking systems.

Why should you care about this?

When a recruiter posts a job, they may get upwards of 400 candidates who apply for that position. No recruiter has time to review all 400 résumés. They will use screening questions and their applicant tracking system's ranking in order to determine which résumés they review. If your résumé is formatted well and has the proper keywords, the higher the likelihood a recruiter is going to review it.

In my recent job search, I looked at many different job descriptions that were on target for my skill set and industries of focus. I compiled a list of the common keywords and buzzwords for these positions and created a base résumé that used the most common keywords for the types of jobs I was interested in.

However, with each job that I applied to, I reviewed the job description and in some cases needed to tailor my résumé to mimic the language of that specific organizations posting. Because I spent the time to better optimize my résumé, I received multiple calls for interviews as opposed to getting frustrated and deflated because my résumé was lost in space.

Some tips to consider when optimizing your résumé:

  • Create a section for specific keywords at the top of your résumé. Call it "Areas of Expertise", or "Core Competencies". For example if you were an IT Web Developer, you may have keywords such as: Web Development, Software Implementation, Project Management, User Testing, JAVA and Front End Content.


  • Focus on accomplishments vs. responsibilities and tasks. Keep the wording of your document tight and focus on accomplishment statements. Instead of "worked on the development and deployment of corporate web-based software applications" consolidate it and try "streamlined development and deployment of web-based software applications".


  • Format your résumé properly. Do not use long paragraphs, personal pronouns like "I" or fancy fonts. Make sure there is plenty of white space so your résumé is visually appealing, use bullets.


Don't disregard how the system works. By optimizing your résumé, you will dramatically increase the chances of getting your résumé viewed by recruiters and land an interview.


alumni@drexel.edu