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Why SEO your resume to find a job?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is part science and part art. SEO is widely used in internet marketing and it helps a website or page to be visible to the search engines, so it can rank. You can also SEO a resume, so that it may be picked up by the resume Bot.
First, the science part. SEO is the use of keywords, headings, outbound links, images, tags and metadata. For websites owners and online businesses, SEO is basic bread and butter.
Second, is the art part. To craft a SEO optimized page, you need to use both the stuff the machines (search engines) understand AND the stuff the humans understand. This way the machine finds your page, resume, and the human enjoys reading it.
SEO your resume
If you’re looking for a job, chances are that your resume will first go thru a selection process by a machine’s software. Recruiters don’t review every single resume they receive. They only review what the software has identified as potentially a match.
So, you want to submit a resume that can potentially be picked by the machine. The software used by the recruiters and HR Department is the Applicants Tracking System (ATS).
This software is like a search engine, “resume Bot”, because it has to scan the resumes submitted and select a handful that match the job’s criteria.
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How to SEO your Resume
1.You have to be Liked by the “resume Bots”
The resumes robots use an algorithm to rank the potential candidates. The order for this ranking is according to criteria possessed by applicants vs requirements by the position.
Websites designers and owners use SEO on their pages to signal Google that their sites have what the person searching is looking for. This is not a perfect method, but it works.
You in the same manner as the web designers, have to make your resume likable by the resumes Bot, which works like Google, technically. This means you have to write in keywords, partially.
2.Your work history has to be described by keywords
It sounds silly, but that’s how it works. Your resume is NOT the place to sound smart and to use big words, it’s the place to be simple. Simple and clean is what the resume Bots understand.
You can still sound fancy on your cover letter, that’s the place to explain yourself a bit more, using regular language. But, not on the resume the Bot needs to scan.
How to come up with keywords?
To SEO your resume, read the job descriptions and also read other similar job descriptions. Visit the company’s website and read the job’s requirements. Go to a job board, like Monster or Flex jobs and find similar positions.
These descriptions will give you a pretty good idea of what the job’s requirements are. Use that for your keywords to build your resume.
For example, if you are looking for a Business Analyst position, here I pulled a job description from Flex Jobs.
Business Analyst will support company’s strategic planning practice, and be accountable for prioritizing/aligning action plans to successfully execute approved projects. Must have 7+ yrs strategic planning/program management exp. 12 month contract.
You can find some of the keywords you need for your resume. Prioritize, align, execute, strategic planning.
If you are writing your resume for that job, these are some of the keywords you need. This way when your resume goes thru the Bot selection, it has a higher chance of being picked.
You also need to consider the industry and the company and what you bring to the table. Put it all together to get a SEO resume.
3.Keywords have to be used with well crafted phrases and sentences, the context
You can’t just use keywords to SEO a resume. You need to write contextual phrases and sentences around them. The resume Bot will read the keyword and the context together to check if you meet the job’s requirements.
Side note: Keywords and hashtags are not the same. A hashtag is used to index an entry. Keywords are used with context.
4.Avoid Keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the repetitive use of keywords and phrases on a document. This is bad for your resume because it makes the document hard to read. It’s not a good reader’s experience.
To SEO your resume use the keywords lightly and in separate paragraphs. It has to sound like a good read. You may have 2 or 3 jobs with the same experience, use the dictionary and thesaurus to find related words you can use. You can repeat occasionally, but try to avoid too much repetition.
5.Use hyperlinks to expand on your qualifications
To SEO your resume, use outbound links from your document. You may have social media accounts, a personal blog or website, a project etc. Use hyperlinks on your resume to direct the Bot to see what else you have out there.
You can design a landing page or website for your profile, using a platform like WordPress and Bluehost. Read my tutorial for creating a webpage/blog.
Be careful not to use too many links. However, you can use the best links you can come up with to show the HR department more about the personal and professional you.
6.Keep your resume simple
Don’t use fancy layouts. Keep the document with simple columns, headings and bullets. Over the top layouts will confuse the Bot and probably the human too.
- Be specific when crafting your job descriptions, not general.
- Keep it simple, but intelligent.
- Use spell checker
- Use the right keywords
Use the cover letter to expand on your qualifications and to use headlines. The cover letter is not read by the Bot, only the human will read it after the Bot passes your resume.
7.The Best Words to use in your Resume
According to Glassdoor.com, these are the best words to use on a resume if you want to land an interview.
- Use Numbers to quantify and to show that you’re number oriented.
- Value or Valuable
8.Don’t use words that will destroy your resume
According to Indeed.com, you should avoid these words on a resume document, if you want to land an interview.
- Strategic thinker.
- Best of breed.
- Think outside the box.
You can SEO your resume in various ways to improve your chances of landing an interview. You should use keywords within the context of job’s experiences. Use hyperlinks to highlight additional information about you. Avoid keywords stuffing and craft a balanced resume document. Always proofread your resume a few times, before submitting.