And remember that humans can make certain assumptions that computers can’t. A commonly cited example is the concept of “cold-calling.” People who read the phrase “cold-calling” in your resume will know you were in sales. But unless “cold-calling” is a specific keyword the employer is seeking in the database search, search software seeking “sales” experience may not find your resume.
To determine the keyword health of your current resume, highlight all the words in it that, based on your research of ideal positions in your field, would probably be considered keywords. Electronic resume guru Rebecca Smith says a good goal to shoot for is 25-35 keywords, so if you have fewer than that currently, try to beef up every section of your resume with keywords, varying the forms of the words you choose.
You may be starting to get the idea that a good keyword resume must be specifically tailored the each job you’re applying to. You will especially get that idea if you read our article, Researching Keywords in Employment Ads. Indeed, a study by the former Career Masters Institute (now Career Management Alliance) notes that resumes that aren’t focused on a job’s specific requirements aren’t competitive. Does that really mean you need to create a separate resume for every job you apply for? Yes and no. It’s probably not practical or realistic to totally revamp your resume for every opening. But you can tweak elements such as your objective statement and professional profile, thus adjusting some of your more important keywords for each job you apply to. Customizing your resume when completing online resume forms at job boards also makes sense.
More keyword tips and cautions:
- Columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy notes that some applicant software programs can’t index resumes in MS Word. But you have to have your resume indexed if you want its keywords to be searched. Thus, the importance of keywords supports the necessity of having both a print version of your resume and a text version that you can simply paste into an e-mail message (see Chapter 7). Some employers don’t want to take the extra step of opening the print version of your resume that you’ve sent as an e-mail attachment, and others won’t do so for fear of viruses.