Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Resume Keyword Tricks and Traps

Another excellent speaker at last week's NRWA conference was Paul Forster, cofounder and CEO of, a job posting aggregator that pulls jobs from all over the web into one search. Paul spoke in detail about the concept of using resume keywords to make sure you get found when recruiters search online and company resume databases.

Career professionals have been conscious of resume keywords for close to a decade now, so this is not a revolutionary topic. However, more and more everyday people are beginning to grasp and use the concept. So his tips are insightful and timely:
  • Use every commonly known synonym for your skills. For example, include both "security" and "collateral" to cover your bases in case a manager searches for one and not the other.
  • Be sure to include brand names associated with your company, especially if they are more well known than the company itself.
  • Include any possible spelling variations of your employers' names. For example, use both "Walmart" and "Wal-Mart." Of course, there was outcry from the group because this would be inconsistent and look wrong. Personally, I think it's better to seek out the absolute correct spelling and be consistent. If a potential employer is dumb enough to spell it wrong, do you want to work for them, anyway?
  • Include abbreviations and acronyms in addition to the spelled-out terms. I generally like to put these in parens after the first reference.
  • Account for "stemming." I'll leave this to the SEO experts among you to clarify (hello, Erik?), but I think what he meant was to be sure to use all variations on the words that describe your skills and titles. For example, be sure to include "editing" as well as "editor" (in this case, "edit" is the stem word).
  • Don't compromise the reader. Even as you're trying to get the computer to like you, you also want a human reader to like your resume and be able to read it.

Paul also shared some general resume posting rules:

  • Use a standard format with consistent font sizes; avoid automatic Word tables.
  • Update your online resume and repost it periodically, but not too often. New resumes get fresh consideration. But if you pop up every week, people will start to ignore you.
  • Clarify the location where you want to work--often for graduating seniors, it's not clear from looking at your college address where you want to go.
  • Always write cover letters that are customized to each opportunity that interests you.

And finally, here are Paul's predictions for the future of the resume:

  • Paper resumes are becoming less and less important.
  • Resumes can incorporate rich media, including video, audio, and photos.
  • Resumes are boundaryless--they can include links, testimonials, and other sources of corroboration.
  • The hResume standard XML format bears watching. If you can code your resume to this format, you'll be able to send it via feeds to employers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Paul is right in that the next resume will include multi-media content, links, testimonials and more. New resume sites such as NUresume ( are already offering online multi-media resume pages to students to market themselves beyond the one page paper resume.