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Resume and Interview

The Scanner-Friendly Resume

When submitting your resume for employment, oration or a personnel search wing that scanning technology " 11 be used to read it. The technology responsible for computer-readable resumes operates on the principle of labeling. At the center of the technology are keywords. Call them buzzwords. Call them descriptors. Call them skill words, or job words. Call them whatever you like.

A sample job order might require:

  • Five years' experience salesperson
  • College graduate
  • A direct marketer to ethnic communities
  • Heavy traveler
  • Self-starter
  • Team leader

Supplied with these specifications, a computer checks a database for resumes that include these keywords. The secret is to fill your resume with as many labels as possible.

The ultimate keywords come from each employer for each position. You can only make reasonable assumptions about what a specific employer will ask for. You will need to maintain a log of keywords that apply to your occupation and industry. Jot down the words as you come across them in trade magazines, class notes, newspaper ads, etc.

Sampling of Keywords

Advertising/Communications Banker
Booth Development RTC
Image Campaign ATM
Promotional Materials Bank Reconciliation
Sales Promotion Operations Commercial Loan
Cable Television Customer Conversion
Civil Engineer Compensation Specialist
ASCE Equity Review
Concrete Design Incentive Plan
Preliminary Stress Analysis Job Classification
Hydrology Trans Analysis Salary Structure
Computer Specialist Economist
Analog Computer Economist Forecast
Compaq Industrial Policy
Mainframes Impact Minority Economic
Real Estate Agent Statistician
Asset Management Biostatistics
Commercial Leasing Standard Deviation
Real Estate Appraisal Stat Regression

Polishing Your Keywords Skills

Looking up information in the Yellow Pages or a library file uses the same skill necessary to write good keywords. Choose nouns that indicate your accomplishments rather than verbs that focus on duties.

Even a resume with very strong content, one which includes all of the keywords that describe your occupational credentials, can be overlooked. Consequently, the keywords in an electronic resume should be organized into two sections. The first is a Keyword Preface; the second is the main body of the resume.

The Keyword Preface or Summary appears directly beneath your name and contact information at the top of your resume. It is an inventory of your most important assets. It runs about 20 to 30 items and each item is capitalized and ends with a period. Cover three points in selecting your items:

  • Your skills, abilities and competencies
  • Your experience using those skills, abilities and competencies, and
  • Your accomplishments in using those skills, abilities and competencies on-the-job.

A keyword summary for a programmer / analyst might include the following: Oracle, Visual Basic, C++.

Marilyn Moats Kennedy, an author of career planning books and managing partner at Career Strategies, says: "It is important to alter your resume to fit a particular job. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they do not pick up on the keywords in job postings and advertisements and include them in their resumes." Also, electronically transmitted cover letters should also include keywords.

Written by Roseanne R. Bensley, Placement and Career Services, New Mexico State University Portions of this article are adapted from The Electronic Resume Revolution by Joyce Lain Kennedy and Thomas 1. Morrow, @ 1994,John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Publishers.


This information was provided by NACE.
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