Resume Keyword Scanners: How to Optimize Your Resume

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Many companies turn to specialized software packages to improve the efficiency and results of their hiring practices. These software packages include resume keyword scanners, which act as a sort of gatekeeper for the advertised job. Learn about resume keyword scanners, what they are, how they work and what you can do to optimize your resume to get an interview.

What is a resume keyword scanner?

A resume keyword scanner, also called an applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a software package that acts as a gatekeeper for job applicants. When you apply for a job online, you’re uploading your resume into a potentially huge database of other applicants. The robot looks for the specific ATS keywords that it has been told to scan to determine the best applicants, and then it forwards those resumes on for the hiring manager to view.

Keyword scanners use a basic algorithm to search for specific keywords within the text of a resume. Each system is different, but they all do the same thing: look for job-specific keywords. These systems look for exact, specific keywords, and they often don’t look for variations. The more keywords found, the more closely the resume is deemed to match the job description. They also search for how many times a specific keyword is used and, to a degree, its context.

Why do companies use keyword scanners?

The problem with these job description keyword finder programs is that they have limited ability to interpret what’s in front of them. That is, they are powered by a simple program that looks for specific words and phrases. They can’t look for a wide range of variations in those keywords. Because of this, a lot of good applicants can get left behind.

That means there is a new skill set you can learn: the skill of writing your resume to optimize its content to the job description and pass that resume keyword search. That means customizing the document to get you past that virtual gatekeeper and in front of the eyes of the hiring manager. 

How to Pass a Resume Keyword Search

Here are some steps you can take to pass a resume keyword search: 

1. Firstly, understand the purpose of a keyword scanner

The purpose of a keyword scanner is twofold. First, it’s designed to remove undesirable candidates who don’t have the necessary qualifications. Second, it’s built to save time for human resource departments and hiring managers. If a hiring manager has to review potentially hundreds of different resumes to try and find the most viable ones, it would take a great deal of time and effort to achieve. 

An ATS job scan system is designed to match the resume to the job description so that the hiring manager only sees the most applicable resumes to the advertised job. This can save a great deal of time and create a more efficient means of hiring the best candidates.

2. Secondly, pick resume keywords

Choosing the right keywords is essential to getting past the resume keyword search. There are some basic strategies you can use to get started. First, make sure your work skills and phrases from the job description appear in your resume exactly as they appear in the job description. If you see a required title or certification, be sure to use both its proper abbreviation or acronym and to spell out the full title of it to ensure you’re communicating your credentials.

3. Thirdly, consider an online tool

You can also use various online tools, which are designed to help you find focus keywords. These job scan website applications allow you to paste job descriptions in, and then they return a word cloud highlighting those terms that are frequently used. These are the words you place in your resume as keywords.

4. Fourth, avoid keyword stuffing

If you overuse a keyword, the system will likely catch it and flag it as ‘stuffed.’ Using the keywords naturally will get better results.

5. Finally, optimize your resume

You’ll need to customize your resume for each job for which you apply to succeed in getting past that job description keyword finder. You can also attempt to customize your resume to suit a number of different job descriptions, but the key is to gather all your job descriptions ahead of time. 

In the end, be straightforward in your formatting, use rich text documents and compare your resume and job description, and you’ll be on your way to optimizing your resume to get past those resume keyword scanner software packages.