But don’t make it a dumping ground for keywords.
I don’t believe a résumé’s greatest attribute is its layout. Don’t get me wrong, how your résumé is structured matters a great deal; but content is by far the most important component.
Included in the content must be keywords and key phrases (KWs & KPs) that are related to the job for which you’re applying. They must be evident throughout your entire résumé.
We’re all aware that large-and mid-sized companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) which allows them to easily pluck the candidates, who possess the most KWs & KPs, from an unearthly pile of résumés.
Harried HR and internal recruiters type in necessary KWs & KPs, and the résumés that contain a majority of them are the first—if not the only—ones seen. It’s estimated that ATSs eliminated 75% of all résumés submitted for jobs.
While content is important—and having the necessary KWs & KPs is essential—where they’re placed is just as important.
Some assert that merely listing them in a section at the top of your résumé (this is where the Professional Profile lies) is the most effective way to get your résumé to float to the top of the employers’ list.
This is where I draw the line between playing the system at the expense of strategic layout.
The Professional Profile is a section of your résumé that needs to demonstrate your outstanding job-related and transferable skills, not be comprised of as many KWs & KPs you can muster up.
It must be written extremely well, providing compelling reasons why you should be brought in for an interview. Keep in mind the following objectives:
- You must prioritize your statements, matching the requirements of the position and other similar positions, not just all the KWs & KPs you capture from a job posting.
- The Professional Profile is a brief outline of what’s to follow in the body of your résumé. Anything you assert in this section must be proven henceforth.
- Consider using WOW statements or accomplishment statements. You’ll state other accomplishments in the body. This will certainly grab the employer’s attention.
- Do not offend the employer with empty claims of greatness by throwing adjectives around. Instead focus on action, e.g., (I) Direct teams of marketing and sales professionals to reach sales projections; exceeded goals by more than 85% in the past two years.
- Don’t write a novel. Your Professional Profile should not be longer than five or six lines. This may even be too long.
There is a better place for the key words and phrases. Where the KWs & KPs should be listed is in a Core Competency or Technical Skill sections below the Professional Profile. In this section you can empty the can and list the relevant KWs & KPs you’d like. However, don’t simply dump them there.
Martin Yate, author of the Knock em Dead series, writes in How keywords create a customer-centric résumé, “A Professional Skills section should list all the skills (keywords) required to execute the responsibilities of the job. It should come right after a Target Job Title and a Performance Summary at the top of your resume because the ATS programs that help recruiters search databases reward both the presence of keywords and the placement of keywords – those keywords found near the top of a document are seen to make that doc potentially more relevant to the user.”
The ATS will detect all the keywords and phrases throughout your entire résumé. Many recruiters encourages not only listing the job-related KWs & KPs; they recommend repeating wherever possible.
Density of KWs & KPs will also determine where your résumé lands in the pile. This means employing them in the Experience and Educations sections. Be sure you use the headers “Experience” and “Education,” as that’s what the ATS recognizes.
Another way job seekers try to to game the system is to write their keyword and phrases in white font at the end of your résumé. This trick is as old as the hills, and most ATSs can detect them and reject you.
Let’s not be too obvious about our intent. Simply write a résumé that shows you have all the skills and include KWs & KPs throughout your résumé.