June 3, 2020

A career counsellor is the sous chef of the employment world. They help you prepare, gather your tools and market yourself well so employers will see your value.

You probably thought I made a mistake with the title of this blog.  Twenty years ago it started to be popular to encourage job seekers to think like a CEO in order to plan for the future and to become the champion of your own career. This is still something that you should do, however in 2020 it is also time to think like an SEO.

SEO means “search engine optimization”.  Many job seekers hear that it is important to have keywords on resumes, yet what are keywords? What happens to your resume when applying to a company that uses an applicant tracking system or ATS scanner to screen out candidates? The answers start with understanding how resume writing has changed.

Think of resume writing like writing a text message or the “about” section of your LinkedIn profile.  There are only a certain number of characters that are allowed. ATS scanners are the same and count characters, not words, so it is extremely important not to waste any space that could make the difference between your resume ending up in a trash bin or the “to be considered” file. For example, there is no need to put brackets around your phone number area code since this wastes two valuable character spaces.

It is also critical to recognize that your career story is arranged with keywords that an ATS scanner and then a hiring manager will be looking for.  Thus every time you apply to a job posting, you need a slightly different cover letter and resume that uses keywords that are in the job description. These include soft skills, hard skills and industry-specific words and expressions. For example, if the job posting is looking for someone with “advanced communication skills” be sure to list your language skills and how you used these abilities to help previous employers solve problems or increase sales.

Not all companies use SEO practices to screen out applications, however, almost all employers will be reading your resume for accomplishments and successes instead of tasks and responsibilities. One way to do this is to start each line with an action verb and then quantify your achievement. For example, instead of stating “Answered inquires and directed calls” you could state “Streamlined communication and time management process when responding to 50+ calls every hour by identifying problems and developing procedures to direct inquires to appropriate project teams”.

When crafting your resume think like an SEO, and when crafting your career think like a CEO. Develop the tactical and confident thinking it takes to pivot successfully in order to survive the shift that COVID-19 has created.  Surround yourself with smart people, become comfortable making well-informed decisions, and acquire resilience to continue through adversity.

To register for a resume webinar, or to connect with a Career Specialist in order to be the CEO of your career, or to learn more about how ATS scanners have changed resumes,  contact us.

Achēv offers free weekly events and workshops to help you achieve your employment and career goals. Visit our Events Calendar to see all of our upcoming events.

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