How to Optimize Your Resume for Job Boards

No matter what field you’re in, the challenge to get one’s resume noticed online is a fierce one. The Internet has made the act of applying for jobs pretty painless but the convenience and accessibility of online apps has created a more competitive arena. With the mass number of resumes flooding in to websites, it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the mix (every week, 427,000 resumes are posted on Monster alone). So it is more important than ever to consciously construct your resume in a way that will make it stand out.

The best way to do this is to incorporate popular terms that employers and recruiters often use in their searches within the content of your resume. Including a few carefully chosen keywords can be the difference between your resume getting you an interview and it disappearing into the abyss of other hopefuls, dying in vain, and never coming across a recruiter’s computer screen. Using keywords on your resume will enable search engines to pull it out of the crowd. Next time you tweak your resume, consider how recruiters and employers actually look for qualified candidates. Like so:

Work History: Examine your past roles then scroll through some job boards to see how employers are listing openings similar to what you have done in the past; it is most effective to use terms companies are using in their ads because they are the words recruiters and employers are most likely to search. When in doubt about what job title to use, utilize a slash to include more than one (Senior Administrative Assistant / Executive Assistant). If you have worked for any well-respected or well-known companies, include the names of those past employers.

Skills: In order to get your resume in front of the most people, do some research on what skills employers are listing in their posts. From the list of common skills you find, choose a couple of the most significant and applicable to use on your resume. And always remember: list the skills most in demand for the job you want next.

Location: Employers will often search for candidates based on the location of the job for a number of reasons. While doing this, recruiters could type in a number of city and state combinations to pull up candidates. For example, a recruiter could look up resumes by typing in “Indianapolis” one day, then search a specific zip code the next- be sure to include as many variations of your location as possible in order to be pulled into their searches.

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Creating a Scannable Resume

Depending on the job you are applying for, a hiring manager or an HR representative may have dozens to hundreds of resumes and cover letters to read. One way to really make your resume stand out is to make it scannable. By ensuring your resume is easy to scan, the computer software being used will pick up on key elements much easier.

Because computer programs read resumes a little differently than a person does, it is important to write and format your resume in a way that a computer program will pick yours out of a stack of dozens. While these tips can’t ensure that will happen, it will certainly increase your chances. Here’s how to create a scannable resume:

Choosing a Font

When you choose a font for your resume, you need to keep in mind that while a computer  can read script-type fonts, it is certainly not as clear. It’s best to stick to fonts like Times New Roman or Helvetica because they are much easier to read. Furthermore, don’t choose a font that squeezes the letters close together. The more legible your words are, the easier your resume will be to scan.

Use Headlines

A great way to break up the content on your resume is by adding headlines. You can easily do this by taking advantage larger font sizes. Try to keep your font type consistent throughout the resume. Try out using larger-sized fonts to break the resume up into different sections like skills, work history, and awards.

Keep it Horizontal

While you might be tempted to have vertical lines to break up your content, you should avoid doing this because some programs will read these lines as if they were letters. Keep all of your sections and any minor design elements you add horizontal.

Single Column

In attempts to make your resume stand out and appear to have design to it, you might be tempted to use a double column style. However, this can cause computer programs to scan your resume improperly. Keep it simple with a single column style. This will also be easier for anyone in HR to read and scan.

Use Key Words

Because a computer program will be scanning your resume, it’s crucial to use key words. How do you know which words it will be looking for? Review the job posting and identify the most important words used. Think about the skills necessary for the job and make sure you mention them a few times throughout your resume.

Do you have any advice for creating a scannable resume? We’d love to hear about your tips so leave a comment below!