Keywords Talent Advisors Look For in Top Talent

Blond young woman in eyeglasses reading her resume while standing in queue and waiting for her turn for interview.
Do you ever get the feeling that no one is reading your resume at all?

Do you ever get the feeling that no one is reading your resume at all?

It can feel that way when you’ve sent resume after resume after resume, just to hear…nada.

It’s especially frustrating when you’re pumped up and ready to make leaps forward in your career. You did the prep work. You’ve got the mindset. You’ve refined the resume. Now it’s just a waiting game with an unknown end time.

We hate to break it to you, but your feeling that no one is seeing your resume is probably true.

For every job opening, there’s an average of 250 resumes submitted for the role. That means that you’re competing against 250 different applicants for the same opportunity.

Additionally, it takes anywhere from 100-200 applications to receive the one job offer that you’ve been looking for. It seems incredibly unlikely that you have a fighting chance with these odds that seem strategically stacked against you.

But the truth is, there is a method to the madness and a strategy that could spin these statistics to your advantage. Having a resume carefully crafted with strategic keywords that accurately represent your work history can be the key to landing your next dream job.

At DotConnect, we want to see you land that job that you’re so passionate about and so qualified for. Seeing amazing talent connect to amazing companies is what we’re about, and it would be a shame if the only thing standing in your way were some missing keywords. With the right information, you could bypass obstacles and save yourself time and energy in the process. So join us as we look at the recruitment process and find out which keywords can help you get a foot in the door.

How to Choose the Right Keywords

Though you put all of your time and energy into that resume of yours, more often than not, these resumes never come into contact with human hands.

Recruiters receive hundreds, possibly even thousands of resumes for each job posting. Do you think they have time to sift through each resume? No, that’s what robots are for.

These days, most companies have adopted applicant tracking systems (ATS) (so, robots) to efficiently review resumes instead of a single person reading through each resume individually. The bigger the company, the more likely it is that they’re using an ATS. In fact, 99% of Fortune 500 companies utilize an ATS before their recruiters ever get their eyes on a resume.

If you’ve been feeling discouraged or concerned that you’re not as desirable, qualified, or talented as other candidates, this is good news. It’s not you, it’s the machines.

While an ATS is sophisticated, it’s still not a human with intuition and personal experience. That means qualified candidates can often slip through the cracks.

The saving grace, here? Keywords.

Keywords are typically established when creating the job opening, so the language that’s used in the job description is often the same language they’ve designated as keywords.

You should be prepared to tweak your resume for each role you pursue, especially if there are variations to your job title and duties. As annoying as it is, taking the time to make a few tweaks could mean the difference between you landing the job and not, so really, it’s worth your time.

So for example if you’re applying for a role as a Financial Analyst, the ATS will search first for that exact term: -Financial Analyst- because this indicates that you have prior, relevant experience in this role. You want to be sure that you have that job title on your resume.

How to Write an Effective Resume

When writing a resume, it’s important to focus on hard skills. Anyone can say they’re dynamic, communicative, driven, or detail-oriented. Unless the job description includes those words, try to focus on quantifiable information and be sure to list names of systems, software, and processes you’re familiar with.

When it comes to utilizing keywords, remember these 4 things:

#1: Utilize existing phrasing from the job description — You should literally lift from the description, so if they’re looking for a “professional graphic designer with direct marketing experience” you can include some or all of that in your resume, as it’s written.

#2: Use keywords that are specific to the role — Go through the description and take note of exactly how they describe your role, then use them in your resume.

#3: Use acronyms and spelled out versions of whatever you’re abbreviating to cover your bases — Use MS Word and Microsoft Word, AP Style and Associated Press Style, and so on.

#4: Write out the year that you’re referencing (2020 vs ‘20) — The more clear you are, the better.

Keyword Tools to Refine Your Resume

Once you’ve finished, check your resume with a keyword tool to see where you stand. There are a few free, great options:

SkillSyncer — A free keyword scanner that checks your resume against job descriptions. You get instant results and a breakdown of how well your hard skills, soft skills, degree and title, and additional keywords match.

Jobscan — Checks resumes and cover letters against job descriptions, and some versions include a resume builder and online application autofill. They have a free version plus two paid versions.

Jobalytics Resume Keyword Analyzer — A free Chrome extension that works on every job board and job description online. You’ll get a match score, keyword analysis, keyword suggestions, and recommended jobs.

How to Win Over Recruiters

Now that you’ve got all the right keywords lined up, you’re ready to send that resume right? Not so fast! While you should be proud that you’ve made it this far, you still have some careful refining to do.

When crafting your resume, be laser-focused on what the recruiter is looking for. Just because you’re proud of something doesn’t mean the recruiter will be.

What Recruiters Look for in a Resume

The last thing you want to do is be on autopilot and only include whatever you think is important and relevant. When you have only seconds to make an impression, you need to give recruiters what they want and cut out any superfluous fluff.

You’d be surprised to know what recruiters actually find valuable. For example, your most recent role and the recognition of your previous employers is more important than your educational background. While you should still include your education on your resume (especially if you have an advanced or specialized degrees), avoid giving too much detail about it and place it towards the end of your resume, not at the top.

Additionally, recruiters are interested in your experience holistically — is there a consistent trend of career progression? Do your titles and responsibilities align with what they’re looking for? What kind of a professional are you? By looking at how long you stay in each company, what responsibilities you had, and how your career progressed, recruiters can get an estimate of how reliable, skillful, and committed you are.

How to Refine Your Resume

If you’ve juggled a number of roles and responsibilities, try tweaking the language to reflect as much as possible on how you’ve stayed consistent and progressed in your career. Don’t try to describe everything you did in each role, and emphasize the commonalities between roles as they pertain to the job description or what you know the recruiters are looking for.

We also know that highlighting key parts of your resume to speak to the role can be another advantage. For example, perhaps you even rephrase your past role as “Content Creator” to “Content Writer” to be more relevant — which is fine in this case because they can often be used interchangeably.

However, it’s important that this is the extent of your craftiness. Based on a CareerBuilder survey, more than 75% of employers have found blatant lies on resumes. Remember that the human element is present to identify the perfect talent for the role, and lying on your resume starts your entire career journey on the wrong foot.

The Dot Experience

So here you are again — ready to take the leap in your career, and find the next best thing!

It’s an exciting time, and now you have more information and more tools at your disposal. Remember how powerful that is. Doesn’t it feel good to know that you’re taking control of the job search process and giving yourself a much better chance for success?

At DotConnect, it’s about more than just keywords. While there are some roles in which a technical filtering process is helpful, it’s just a starting point. Plus, many roles require our hands-on involvement from the get-go to guarantee success; this is when we rely on the extensive training and experience of our TAs to fill roles strategically.

Our Talent Advisors dedicate their time to identifying the perfect candidates and building lasting teams for businesses in need. That means we spend our time curating thousands of resumes to align stellar talent to hard-to-fill roles. If you need support in landing your dream job, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

If you’re a business ready to take the next step in growing your team or a recruiter interested in joining our team, we have the tools you need to build connections and help you grow! We’ve helped amazing businesses like Samsung Next and Zendesk attract and retain talent, and we’ll do the same for you!