- Just as workers are advised to dress to emulate those in positions to which they want to be promoted, look at ads and job descriptions for the job that is “one level above” the job you are targeting at that firm, and add some of those “next-level” keywords to the ones that come from your current level. Recruiting guru Darrell Gurney gives a good example of how to use next-level keywords in your resume: If an ad mentions a keyword for which you don’t have the associated experience/expertise, use the keyword in your objective statement to indicate that you want to be using that experience in your next job. “You are a financial analyst, and your past experience does not include work in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or 10K reporting, but you do want to move into this area,” Gurney writes. “In the ‘Objective’ on your resume and in your cover letter, be sure to state these skills as areas of interest. Example: Objective: To secure a growth-oriented position as a Senior Financial Analyst with a focus on SEC and 10K reporting.”
- Look at ads and job descriptions for competitor firms that are “one step up” from your target firm. “Because most firms try to emulate the practices of their ‘superior’ competitors,’ Sullivan writes, “showing that you have the skills required by that competitor will generally give you a competitive advantage.”
- Peruse the job descriptions and want ads of any jobs in the same job “family” as the one you’re targeting to identify patterns of words that the employer uses repeatedly.
- After scrutinizing ads, identifying keywords from them, and loading them into your resume, test your resume by comparing it to ads you want to target. If your resume doesn’t include more than 50 percent of the keywords in an ad, Sullivan exhorts, don’t expect an interview.
On the following pages, we offer two examples from popular jobs, pharmaceutical sales rep and project manager, for which we’ve frequently prepared resumes for clients.
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