Most likely, when you apply for a position your application doesn’t go straight into the inbox of a recruiter; you’re added to a database of possibly hundreds of other applicants. The recruiter will then search through the database using strategic keywords to figure out which resumes are most likely to meet their needs. Their strategy is designed to get to the best candidates fastest, by selecting the criteria that matter to them, then evaluating candidates who are the most promising. You need a strategy to optimize your chances of appearing in the “promising” pile. We’ll focus here on the word choices and keywords that can help you move closer to your next job.
To optimize your resume’s keywords, it’s very useful to use similar words in the job description- of course, only if you are skilled in those areas and have the experience to show it. By leveraging the skills you already have that are also keywords in a job description, your resume is a step ahead of those who didn’t check for strategic vocabulary first. Also, make sure to include industry-specific wording. This step helps you to stand out in an electronic search, but also helps the recruiter think of you in terms of their ideal candidate. Don’t make them match your experience to her needs. Show that you’re already a match.
Never use passive verbs in your resume; if you led a specific part of a task or project, say exactly that. Don’t mention “assisting” or “aiding” the entire project when you can take control and responsibility of a certain area. Use these strong verbs to start off your bullet points, and make sure to state when an assignment was successful or not- never leave the reader wondering about the outcome.
Know thyself. Do you lead, plan, organize? Analyze, report, evaluate? Represent, promote, advertise? Each of these groups of words begins to create a mental map of a set of prominent skills, which map better onto certain roles (managerial, quantitative, and communications respectively). This is of particular interest for people looking to switch industries. Focus on the verbs and wording of the field you want to be in, using your past experience to illustrate those skills.
For additional help, here are some lists of resume buzz words:
This is a guest post contributed by the Ivy Exec Blog, an exclusive site where pre-screened, high caliber professionals find relevant job opportunities with leading companies.