Keywords are an essential component of creating a great resume. Using them strategically throughout the copy is sure to help your resume rise to the top of the pile and impress the recruiter. However, many people take it too far. Keyword stuffing is a common pitfall for job hunters who often don’t even realize they are making the mistake. Cramming your resume with too many keywords is risky and has cost many people job opportunities.
The first reason to thoughtfully use keywords in your resume is to appease the applicant tracking systems. Many companies use an ATS to manage the application process. This software filters through applicants’ information to determine which candidates are best qualified for the position. The majority of this analysis is based on keywords the hiring manager has determined should be on the ideal candidate’s application.
Knowing this, applicants research keywords and important industry terms and include this verbiage on their resume as much as possible. With the idea that the more keywords included, the higher their resume will rank, they attempt to cram in as many as possible. Some even hide keywords in white font to try to trick the ATS without sacrificing the visual appeal of the text to the human eye.
Never do this. White fonting is not only questionable from an ethical standpoint, but almost never works. Some ATS systems can’t read white font. Others are so sophisticated that they pull resumes that have hidden text and eliminate those candidates. What’s more, hiring managers are well aware of this practice and often highlight resumes to reveal white fonts prior to calling candidates. This shifty practice is frowned upon and will most likely cause your resume to end up in the virtual trash bin.
So you won’t use white font, but you are going to incorporate as many keywords into your resume as possible. You may get past the ATS, but what happens when it’s reviewed by a real person? A human recruiter will read your resume to decide if you’re worth the phone call. If the copy is difficult to read, it’s not doing you any favors.
Recruiters know all the tricks and when you have mere seconds to impress with a resume, and poor grammar that forces the use of keywords will get you cut. Your best bet is to determine the most important keywords for a particular job and use them thoughtfully throughout your resume. That means where they fit naturally!
Some keywords will remain the same for any application you submit. Research important industry and educational terms and include them organically throughout the copy. Another smart step is to pluck keywords from the job listing itself. It offers a treasure trove of clues for what is likely programmed into the ATS and on the recruiter’s must-have list. Use these in natural places throughout your resume to ensure you get noticed and score that big interview.
Still have questions about applicant tracking systems and keywords? Contact us to learn more.