Think of a job posting as a gift. The prospective employer has literally shared with you the experience, skills, and education being sought in qualified candidates. The greater the match between your résumé and the job description, the higher the probability of being selected for an interview. And, keywords narrow the qualifying gap.

The one-résumé-does-all with the generic cover letter, like Elvis, have left the building. You have to:

  1. Use Applicant Tracking Software-friendly keywords to create matches between your résumé and cover letter and the job posting. If the ATS is looking for the word “sales” and your submission has “business development,” the odds of a match are below low. Thoroughly read the job description and apply the proper keywords in your résumé and cover letter FOR EVERY SUBMISSION. If you have done your job search homework and are qualified for and being selective about the positions you’re going after, the amount of keyword customization you have to do should be minimal.
  2. Convert your “keywords” to “action keywords.” If the hiring manager is looking for experience with “telecommunications costs,” those are keywords. Stating that you have “Reduced ‘telecommunications costs’ by 38% in less than 9-months” is using action keywords. If the prospective employer is looking for manager candidates with “sales plan” experience, those are keywords. Writing that you “exceeded Q3 and Q4 ‘sales plan’ by 130%” is using action keywords. Big difference, right?

Using the right keywords gets you past the ATS and in the eyes of recruiting managers. Action keywords get their attention!

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