Write a targeted resume to get an interview

Writing your resume is tough enough, but with the odds of your resume being seen by hiring managers so slim, you’ll need all the help you can get. Eventually, the job of your dreams will finally be posted and you’ll want to go the extra mile to get an interview. So now what?

Customize your resume for the position!

Sounds easy enough, but to get past the applicant tracking system (ATS), you’ll need to learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is how journalists and other writers get their work seen by search engines (Google, Bing, etc.). That way, their articles will display in search results. ATS’s work in the same manner. They scan your resume like a search engine and if your resume matches the search criteria, your resume will be selected as a top match. The trick is, knowing how to align your resume with the search criteria. So how do you do that?

Match their job posting requirements!

Although there are multiple methods to do that, I’ll focus on just one to get you started: Keyword optimization. Keyword optimization involves researching and selected the best keywords (hint, they are in the job posting), so that your resume is seen by the ATS. Thankfully, there is a handy free tool available that can provide information to guide you.

How TagCrowd can help

With TagCrowd, you can cut and paste the job description and requirement into the appropriate box. Under Options, next to Show Frequencies? click Yes. After a quick visualization, you’ll get a list of the top keywords used in the job posting.

Visit TagCrowd at https://tagcrowd.com/

(no compensation was paid for my recommendation)

Next step

Your next step is carefully match a few of the top keywords in your resume (I generally aim for the top 5 meaningful keywords). This can be tricky. If the job posting is written poorly, you’ll discover some of the top keywords have nothing to do with the accomplishments on your resume. You’ll have to determine if the open position will actually be a good fit for you. If it is, you may also want to see if anyone in your professional network can put your resume in front of the hiring manager’s eyes.

Just a warning, don’t get too carried away with matching all the keywords exactly. This process, known as “keyword stuffing,” will be recognized as such by the ATS and you’ll be rejected.

Nevertheless, TagCrowd can be an important tool to use in customizing your resume to get your dream job. Use it wisely and you will get that interview!

1 tip to get seen by hiring managers

Recently, one of my resume writing clients vented his frustration with his job search over the last few months. “I feel like I have the skills and qualifications, so why isn’t anyone interested in me?” he disclosed to me. Let me break it down for you.

Initially, hiring managers want someone who can walk in the door and be familiar with their technologies and methodologies right away.

Corporations have applicant tracking systems (ATS) in place to screen out candidates that do not meet this requirement, so this is where it gets complicated. In fact, some of the most perfectly qualified candidates will never be seen by hiring managers. So what can you do?

First, you need to state the exact name of every technology that you’ve ever used on your resume. Call out the full product name and it’s descriptor, if possible. For example, my client said that he had used Remedy for four years when he worked at a call center. Remedy, itself, is a company name and, in fact, no longer in existence. What did the ATS see? Nothing.

I rewrote the accomplishment with the product name as it is known today, which is “BMC IT Service Management.” Many modern ATS’s are smart enough to know current product names and now will call him out as a candidate with 4 years’ experience in service management software. Some of the older systems aren’t as smart, but you have to keep looking forward.

In summary, do the foot work and research every product name you’ve ever used. Visit corporate websites to find out actual names and use it wisely on your resume. Not only in your “skills” section but also once (just once, not more) under each position that you’ve held in the past.

Why won’t anyone hire a veteran?

It seems a simple concept. In the legal world, it’s called quid pro quo (“this for that”). You fight for our freedom and in return, you should be the strongest candidate for civilian jobs. But why aren’t you getting calls or interviews?

In my discussions with hiring managers, human resource leaders, and even reading articles across the Web, it’s abundantly clear that veterans face tremendous hurdles when looking for a job in the civilian world. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties of the process, here are some things you should know when transforming from the military to civilian workforce.

First and foremost, you are not alone. While it would be easier to simply blame corporations for being so narrow-minded, the reality is, you are a stranger to the hiring manager. We are taught very early not to trust strangers, and hiring managers are no exception. Break down that barrier by giving potential employers something to relate to. One method is to develop a personal brand, which will show your professional values. Employers that share your values are more likely to be interested in knowing more about you. Employers who don’t share your values are those you want to repel. This is a win-win situation.

Hard skills, those that are learned, will be your biggest hurdle. If you are going to apply to jobs through a job board or corporate website, your resume will be submitted to an applicant tracking system (ATS), what I call “the robots.” Hiring managers program the robots to screen out anyone who doesn’t have their desired skill set. Even though you may be an expert on the technology to take out the enemy with a push of a button, an employer might be more interested in your knowledge of JIRA. Find a career professional who specializes in translating military skills to civilian skills. 

When you make it past the robots, you’ll be quizzed on soft skills, or behaviors, in telephone or in-person interviews. Will you get along with your potential co-workers? Do you have similar likes or dislikes? Employers will want to know if you can do the job. In short, if the interviewers see themselves in you, you will be one of the top candidates. Keep your responses relatable. Military or civilian, if an interviewer can relate to your behavior, this works to your favor.

While you may have thrown in the towel on more than one occasion, there are plenty of reasons to have hope. First, many corporations have enacted social responsibility programs, which include efforts to hire veterans. You will have a step-up on other candidates from the get go. Second, there is a growing industry based on serving those who served. They offer you free career services, like resume writing, career counseling, and interview preparation. Organizations who offer job placement services for veterans are your best choice. In addition to being your personal advocate, they are able to bypass the dreaded robots!

Ready to find your dream job? Contact Veterans Job Resources for your free career services and job placement today.