Monday, May 21, 2012

Resumes and Keywords

After delivering my modern resume talk on branding, I sat in on a couple other professional development presentations. One was from a recruiter, and I heard a few interesting things.

Keywords matter.

They don’t need to be at the top, but they do need to be in your resume. The HR people, and some recruiters play the Highlighter Game, talked about below. The higher your score, the more likely they’ll pass along your resume.

My advice still stands. Keep keywords on the resume, but move them to the end. Get the person that reads your resume something interesting to read at the top.

In terms of formatting, break those keywords up. Use categories and organize your skills. Here’s a quick look at what I’d do on my resume:

Databases: SQL Server 2012/2008 R2/2008/2005/2000/7/6.5/4.2

Languages: T-SQL, HTML, Powershell, C#.NET, VB.NET, XML, C, Perl

OS: Windows 2008, Windows 2003, Windows 7, Windows XP

I might not include the OS part, but the categories should be listed in large general ones that the non-technical person can understand (for the Highlighter Game).

The skills should be listed in order of strength, strongest to weakest. Or in order of the things that you want to do to things you don’t want to work on.

The Highlighter Game

Take a job listing and set it next to a resume.

Grab a highlighter.

As you read through the resume, highlight any keyword that is in the job listing.

Add up the score at the bottom of the resume.

Sort the resumes by score.

Not a great method, but unfortunately what recruiters have seen HR people use as a way to filter down resumes. Usually many of the resumes that meet some minimal bar as then reviewed again.

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