The where, why and how of search-friendly resumes

There are two ways to connect with recruiters. One is to respond to job advertisements and the other is to have recruiters contact you.

There are two ways to connect with recruiters. One is to respond to job advertisements and the other is to have recruiters contact you. This article is about the latter. We explore the where, why and how of search friendly resumes and walk you through the thought process of a recruitment professional so that you get a good insight into the chain of events that trigger a phone call.

Where do recruiters search for talent?

The second most powerful instrument that a recruiter has at his or her disposal is the talent database. It’s contains the details of every candidate that has ever submitted a job application or uploaded a resume to their agency. Appearing in the search results from queries to this database is the absolute ideal for job seekers.

By the way, in case you are wondering a recruiter’s most powerful instrument is their client relationship management system. Without that there would be no jobs to advertise in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there in this discussion.

Online job portals such as Linkedin, Monster and Jobserve are also popular destinations for prowling recruiters. Uploading your resume to these sites (or completing your profile in the case of Linkedin) is a foundational step in ranking favourably in search results.

Why do recruiters search for talent?

This is a fundamental question. Surely, it’s easier for recruiters to advertise a job and wait for applications to be submitted. What causes recruiters to spend valuable time to proactively search for talent instead?

The simple answer is that great talent is good for business. The process of screening, interviewing and submitting job applications costs time and money. But payday does not come unless one of the recruitment firm candidates is actually hired by the client. In order to increase the odds of this process completing successfully recruitment firms perform wide searches to ensure that they have engaged the most suitable candidates on the market.

How do recruiters find talent?

Short answer is keyword searches. That’s why having the right words in your resume makes all the difference.

Availability keywords

It may be useful include the words ‘actively looking for work’, ‘seeking new opportunities’ or similar in your summary to ensure you catch the eye of recruiters who filter on these words.

Skills keywords

Skills keywords are broad terms that describe a general area such as ‘aerospace design’, ‘event management’ or ‘mainframe developer’, ‘biomedical’ etc.

The client will have a specific skill set in mind when briefing the recruiter. These can be ‘mainstream’ descriptions rather than specific skills. For example, in the technology field a client may be interested in cloud services so they brief the recruiter who in turn specifically searches for the keyword ‘cloud’. What are the mainstream terms in your area? Are they listed in your resume?

From a view to a phone call:

Ok, now your resume is starting to appear in recruiters searches, what attributes cause the recruiter to take the time and effort to pick up the phone.

1. Presentation. Enough said there. Pretty well known attribute.

2. Alignment. This is the killer attribute. The summary, titles and at-a-glance features of the resume must scream “<insert the job skill set here>”. If there is a tight coupling between your resume and the advertised job you will likely receive a call.

Be wary not to take this to extremes. If your resume screams “I’m good at everything” then it will likely not have the same impact. Select your skill inclusions and omissions wisely.

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