The first place your resume gets ‘read’ within either an external or internal recruiting department is their database.
The only time a recruiter/HR reads your resume is when it’s relevant to a search, which is no different than you and I only reading what’s relevant for our work. Also, with the ease of resume submission, a smaller shop of 4-5 partners may have 20,000+ resumes in their database – and we would rather have them finding roles to fill than reading resumes all day! For companies, the pool of potential resumes can be much greater.
The trick is to be included in the results of a resume search, which will lead to your resume being read by the recruiter. For purposes of this post, I’ll use the term ‘recruiter’ to represent both external and internal resources.
No different than using keywords in Google, the recruiter will use a series of key terms (position name, title, companies, division names, skills, etc.) to filter in those resumes that match a client’s requirements. There’s not much you can do with the position titles and companies, they are what they are. That leaves the ‘skills’ to help get you into the search.
The question is how to tilt the ‘skill’ field in your favor by including all the keywords and still have a resume that reads well?
If you jam your resume full keywords, then the effectiveness of your content is greatly diminished and you look like a rotten communicator. The net result is you win the battle, but lose the war. You get into the pool of possible candidates (win the battle), but when the recruiter reads your resume, better yet tries to read it, you provide them with little incentive to pursue you further (lose the war).
Here’s a tip from my colleague, Bill Wolff, that very cleverly solves this issue.
At the bottom of his resume, in 2 point font in white (so not visible in either on screen or in print see it really works), Bill included all the relevant keywords to his skills (strategic planning, publicly-traded, etc.). As long as it did cause an extra page break, then he could put in as many additional terms as needed.
My two tips for this idea.
First, the important word in the prior paragraph: relevant. Make sure the terms used can be backed up with your resume, so that you remain in the pool of possible candidates once your resume is reviewed.
Second, use terms that cover everything about you: Technical terms relevant to your position/industry (e.g. petrochemical), Personality (e.g. collaborative, etc.), Skills (e.g. public speaking, etc) and Work Experience (e.g. international joint ventures).
A great tip – candidate to candidate.
Good luck today.