When we last left our unemployed case study friend, Johnson, he was reading up on ways to help his online job applications and resume stand out in the scrutinizing eyes of the robots who pre-scan them for the hiring managers. That is, stand out in a good way. Johnson was also learning to avoid the pitfalls of uploading with formatting problems or hard-to-find critical information.
In the articles linked in yesterday’s post, Johnson learned about including key words and phrases in his online profiles, cover letters and resume versions, to attract positive attention to his job history and qualifications. Some of the ways your documents might be scanned for words and phrases sought after by employers (and the programs designed to help them sort through and select the best candidates via their online applications) are:
- Names of companies in the same or similar industry as the company with which you seek employment. It can be downright fantastic if you’ve worked for or with one of their competitors.
- Names of companies used as vendors, or businesses aligned with, the company with which you seek employment. You want a job in paper sales. You once sold copiers that prefer that paper. Good one.
- Names of products or services from your experience that matter to the company with which you seek employment. E.g., rewards points program you worked on for one client that this place would love to have.
- Results. Phrases that demonstrate results are highly valued. Choose “Improved consumer perceptions in marketplace in a six-month initiative and reduced media expenditures by 20% in the same period” over “Led research and media buying teams charged with improving consumer perceptions and reducing media expenditures.”
- Actions. Words that demonstrate strong, positive actions you took (or take, if you’re writing in the present tense… which is an option many resume-writers employ to describe job duties, and a must if you’re still employed). This is important, if you don’t have clear, or good, results. (Hey, it’s hard to improve consumer perceptions in six months when they slash your budget. What if you inherited a lackluster team to work with, or your boss insisted you put bad policies in place? It happens.)
Positive action words should be sprinkled throughout your documents, and you should version your resume to include a few phrases that address (not mimic) some of the actions and job responsibilities your potential employers list in their postings. In Johnson’s case, he noticed his resume repeated a lot of the same tasks under each of his past jobs, wasting an opportunity for him to include more action words specific to the better kind of job he wanted now. So he swapped a few out, like this one:
When a position called for someone to “manage tight budgets and multiple project deadlines,” he included this phrase as a highlight (bullet point) for his last position: “supervised nine channel partner accounts in 2011, and launched four new sales incentive programs on unexpectedly reduced budgets, in the race to meet organization’s fiscal year goals.”
Notice this doesn’t say if the goals were met. But Johnson’s actions are positive, and it’s easy to see how even a robot will be impressed with supervised accounts, launched new programs, reduced budgets, meet fiscal goals.
When it gets past the bot to the human’s eyes, that person will be able to read further into this phrase and should be even more impressed. Nine accounts plus four new programs all at once? Ahh, the race to meet an organization’s goal, we know what that’s like don’t we?
Rob, get in touch with Johnson and set up an interview. Sounds like a good man.
Said in the voice of Mr. Larry Tate, about someone like Darrin Stevens. But that Rob, that should be the secretary’s name--however in this case it’s short for Robot. It’s important, when there are always so many to dos for each day, to lighten up once in a while, don’t you think? Well, I do. And I gotta be me. Because among the most important advice I can offer to anyone, in life (I've been around), in business (ditto), as a mom (awww), and as a writer of creative non-fiction and brand marketing copy (resumes are a form of both, make no mistake), is this:
Don't be sorry, just be true. And do whatever works.
That means, when you're writing your resume and cover letter, be honest about who you are and what you've done, and begin by taking a good look, without too much modesty, at all your best traits and accomplishments. What makes you, you? Why do people people want that? Show them you know know how to deliver it. Express your essence, and don't be shy about it.
Remember, it's work that you want, not a donation, not a tiara. You've earned the chance for an interview, so put it on paper and push it past those bots!