Are you sending out one job application after another, but not hearing back? A lackluster resume may be the culprit. As you’ve probably already heard, you’ve got about six seconds to catch someone’s eye (or be passed over), so having a resume that packs a punch and tells a great story quickly is key.
Not sure how to do it? My advice for getting beyond the first glance is this: SEO yourself.
While you probably know the term SEO, you may not know what it means (or how it applies to your resume). SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it involves techniques to make a website appealing to search engine algorithms—or, in other words, get more love from Google. Top websites regularly consider how to make sure they’re noticed by the big search engines—and when it comes to your resume, stealing a few techniques from the SEO playbook can catapult you to the top of the heap.
Here are five tricks from the internet marketing world that’ll get you past the initial glance and into the running for the position you want.
1. Use Relevant Keywords
A website can have great information, but if it doesn’t include the phrases a searcher would look for, it won’t be found. Similarly, your resume should include terms that align with those recruiters and employers use.
If your prospective employers are using an applicant tracking system (ATS), keywords can get you past the machine and in front of human eyes. Today’s sophisticated ATS engines search not only for keywords, but also scan for appropriate and relevant context (i.e., listing “Adobe Photoshop” as a technical skill, a language skill, and under each of your prior roles won’t trick the system).
But even if your prospective employer isn’t using an ATS, including clear, relevant keywords increases the odds that your skills will jump off the page to someone screening with limited time.
To decide which keywords will be most attractive, review job postings and the LinkedIn profiles of people in your desired role. Check out job sites like The Muse, Indeed, and Dice to skim postings in your field and see which descriptive terms overlap. Switching fields? Check out professional journals relevant to your field to see what language is trending and how to couch yourself in the most appropriate terms.
Once you target the best keywords, be sure to use them (when appropriate) in your current and prior job descriptions, as well as in your roster of skills.
2. Write an Eye-Catching Headline
Just as websites get found (and clicked on!) by readers because of their enticing headlines, you can employ this tactic to catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers. Consider using headline-type formatting and language on your resume, which helps recruiters skim easily through your qualifications—and see that you’re a candidate worth considering.
Here’s how to do it: Rather than putting the names of your prior employers in bold font, make your job titles the focus, including keywords whenever you can. If your job titles aren’t impressive or don’t quite reflect the scope of what you did, try crafting a short phrase that captions your role (e.g., “Administrator: Human Resources Guru”). Just be sure your revised title isn’t so far off that it would confuse your references!
Then, think like a headline writer, and weave standout language into your bullet points in job descriptions. For example, a sales manager might use phrases like “rocketed sales by 30%,” “slashed sales cycle by 20%,” or “supercharged sales staff performance.” Better than, “increased,” right?
Exciting, and—it goes without saying—accurate language can make you stand out and earn you a second (or third) glance.
3. Include Relevant Hyperlinks
On the web, relevant hyperlinks to credible sources improve your readability and page rank within search engines. On a resume? Relevant hyperlinks can provide hiring managers evidence that you’re the best candidate for the job.
Consider adding links to your personal website, articles you’ve written in industry journals or publications, or sites that showcase your work. If you’re in a creative field, a link to your portfolio, to apps you’ve developed, or to articles you’ve penned can be very persuasive. For tech job seekers, including links to a video resume, online CV, or sites you’ve built are nice, tech-savvy touches.
However, don’t insert hyperlinks just for the sake of doing so. Make sure all links are relevant, put you in a good light, and (very importantly!) do not go to dead pages.
4. Add Social Media Profiles
On a website, social media links allow readers to share, like, or pin content. In turn, these social media shares improve SEO. On a resume, including your social media handles is a great way to demonstrate your personality, industry knowledge, and personal brand. Especially if you’re looking for jobs in marketing, brand management, or social media, this is huge.
Start with a link to your LinkedIn profile, so recruiters can easily see your connections, recommendations, projects, and more. If you use them professionally, you can also include links to your Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Reddit profiles. Bonus: Include links to industry-specific social media sites where you’re an active participant (e.g., IT Central Station for techies, OilPro for those in the petroleum field, or Active Rain for realtors).
5. Streamline Content
When it comes to websites, content is king. Informative, well-written, and concise articles improve SEO. When refining your resume, keep this in mind, and make sure you use tight, high-quality verbiage.
First things first, cut the fluff. Generic phrases and puffery should go ASAP—think clichés like “excellent communicator,” “team player,” “results-oriented,” and “motivated self-starter.” Also ditch passive words and phrases (like “was responsible for”) and opt for active words like “directed” instead.
Next, strike the objective section. Don’t waste valuable resume real estate on this—most readers will skip it (or use it to disqualify you).
Finally, use numbers. Hard data (think: dollars and percentages) are easier to digest than text. So, instead of “top-seller,” opt for “‘more than $1 million in sales” or “increased sales by 20% in Q1.”
Your resume should be brief, but highly effective. These internet marketing strategies can help you streamline and concisely demonstrate that you’re a candidate worth a second look.