Having Trouble Getting Your Resume Noticed? Turn to SEO

stand out resume

We’ve all been there: there’s a job posting that you know that you’re qualified for, you’re instructed to submit you resume via the company’s applicant tracking system, you apply and haven’t heard a thing…a few weeks later, if you’re lucky, you received a canned decline letter. Chances are, a human probably never even laid eyes on it.

Applicant tracking systems are typically programmed to scan a resume for certain keywords and determine candidate match based on those keywords.  And, just like a Google or Bing search, only relevant results (and in this case, resumes), are returned. The trick is to make your resume relevant and that’s where search engine optimization comes in handy.   No need to be an SEO expert – you just need to know a few tricks:

1. Do Your Research

When a company is looking to optimize their website, they turn to tools such as Google Keyword Tool to analyze the competition and frequency of certain keywords.  They then include relevant words in meta tags and copy within the site to help increase the likelihood that their company website will appear in search results.  Do the same for your job search: look at a few postings of jobs that you are interested in, and of course, qualify for. See what words these job descriptions have in common and organically include them into your resume.

2. Test it Out

Not only is Careerbuilder a great place to find a job, it’s a great way to test how effective your resume is.  When you log in to your Careerbuilder account, there’s a box called “Your Stuff.”  This box tells you how many actual views your resumes has had and how many times your resume has appeared in a search result.

  • “Resume Views” tells you how clever your resume title is
  • “Resume Searches” tells you how well optimized your resume is

After you tweak your resume, upload it to Careerbuilder and monitor it for a few days. Are you appearing in more search results? Then congratulations, you’ve been optimized.  No real boost in search results? Repeat step one.

3.  Put it Into Action

You’re visible on Careerbuilder, now time to tackle those pesky applicant tracking systems.  A one size fits all approach doesn’t always work, so you’ll need to tweak your resume for certain jobs, based on their description.  Again, being organic is key: typing the words “project management” over and over again will surely get you screened out.  Remember, this is about standing out from the crowd, not being deceptive.


It really does work…

After I optimized my resume, I updated it on Careerbuilder and for the first time I was getting calls from companies I hadn’t even applied for.  Instead of my resume showing up in 5 or 6 searches (according to the Careerbuilder counter), it was showing up in 130 searches in a week’s time.  Jobs that I actually did apply for via applicant tracking systems were beginning to call me.

Let’s face it, one of the biggest challenges in this job market is getting noticed, but a little SEO can put you head and shoulders above the competition.  If that doesn’t work, you can get one of these nifty resume tees made…

resume tee

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