Keyword Resumes

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: December 29, 2008 - 10:03 AM

Keyword Resumes: what recruiters really want. Don’t just list keywords you think are important for the job when creating a resume. Tailor your resume to fit the job, using keywords throughout to match what’s wanted in the job description

Dear Matt: Do companies still do mass searches using keyword résumés, or is that a thing of the past? What is a keyword résumé?

Matt: I've got some mixed opinions on this one. Yes, companies certainly do still use keyword résumé searches. But if you really think about it - aren't all résumés - if done correctly - keyword résumés?

What I mean is, each and every résumé you send in should have the keywords - backed by proof of your accomplishments - that fit the job description of the position you are applying for. A general résumé won't help you stand out from the crowd, but tailoring each and every résumé to match your skills and experience with what the employer wants is what helps you get noticed.

What is a keyword résumé search?

Employers use applicant tracking software, which provides the opportunity for companies to filter out unwanted résumés and zero in on applicants that have the experience they are looking for in a candidate, says Brent Loberg, partner with Da Vinci Search (www.davincisearch.com) in St. Paul.

Customizing a résumé for a specific position allows the job seeker to be strategic, repeating keywords from the job description in various locations throughout the résumé, showing proof of skills that match the job says Ryan Evers, division director of Acccountemps in Bloomington.

How do they work?

When submitting a résumé, job seekers should plan to tailor their résumés the same whether it will be scanned by software or read by a recruiter, adds Loberg.

"While keywords will be flagged by technology regardless of their placement in a résumé, it is critical for those keywords to be strategically placed for the times when the résumé is viewed in a more traditional manner," says Loberg. "Recruiters tend to scan key sections of a résumé looking for specific pieces of information. By including key words relevant to the position in areas such as a résumé's objective, accomplishments and titles, the job seeker stands a much better chance of conveying the information they want to stand out."

As Claudia J. Samuelson, president and principal recruiter of the Samuelson Resource Group, Inc. (www.samuelsonrg.com) in Minneapolis points out, recruiters and hiring managers only spend 60 seconds reviewing your résumé, so the message needs to be a powerful one - one that fits what the employer wants -with keywords that can help you stand out from the rest of the crowd.


Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to askmatt@startribune.com.
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