(This story was first published 2/08/09)
CHICAGO (CBS) — With hundreds of thousands of people each month seeking a job, it’s crucial to know how to make your resume catch someone’s eye. CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker offers the best ‘buzz words’ to include so you’ll get noticed and back to work.
More than half of all companies today rely on online applications to hire new employees. Using the right phrases is key to getting your resume noticed.
Steve Farr is changing his resume for the umpteenth time. It’s all part of his strategy to improve his chances of getting a new job. He lost his old job as a manager for a phone company when the firm downsized. Now he spends his days filling out job applications online.
But with hundreds applying for the same job, Farr’s challenge is to try and make his resume stand out. So he’s learned to fill his resume with keywords.
“It’s ways of describing things,” Farr said.
For example, in his old resume Farr wrote that he “managed special projects.” Now he plans to change it.
“I realized very quickly that if I somehow inverted that and described myself as having been project manager, that the phrase ‘project manager’ might get a hit,” Farr said.
He wants a hit from a company recruiter. Here’s why. Recruiters, like Sam Burns from The Field Museum, aren’t sifting through resumes by hand. They’re sorting them electronically, and using keywords or buzz words to determine which resumes they’ll read.
“Buzz words are important from the standpoint of they may help set you aside from the people who don’t have the same background experience that you do,” Burns said.
For example, when the museum was searching for a director of fundraising, it wanted someone who had worked with Raiser’s Edge software. Burns typed it in and found a few dozen resumes.
“The buzz words that people should be using should come directly from the job description themselves if they’ve got that experience,” Burns said.
But be careful: Burns says you don’t want to put every keyword you find in a job description in your resume. If you do, it’ll look like you just copied it.
Joyce Austin works for a social service agency called Able. They help job seekers tweak their resumes.
Austin says the best way to find keywords is to look in newspaper ads or to use career websites such as Flipdog.com or Monster.com. On these, you’ll find numerous companies that use the same keywords to describe similar jobs.
There are specific keywords for every industry. But at Careerbuilder.com, manager Jason Ferrara is sharing a little known secret — a list of universal keywords that attract attention.
“Anything about leadership, customer retention, product planning, strategic development,” Ferrara said.
There are more than 20 words on the universal keyword list. Check them out below:
Performance and productivity improvement
Investor and board relations
Oral and written communications
Problem solving and decision making
Experts say even if you have the right buzz words, your resume still needs to be correct and neat. So search out any spelling and grammatical errors.