First of all, keywords are a tricky and a moving target. You’re never going to be able to guess all the keywords. There’s dozens of applicant tracking systems out there, which are the computer systems that employers use to gather the resumes. An employer can get as many as 10,000 people that apply to a single job. So, they’ll put in some keywords that maybe they won’t advertise in the job, but it’ll do additional filtering for the resumes they go through.
The very first thing that anybody who’s presenting themselves for a job needs to do is to have an honest assessment of what it is they’re doing and what it is they’re looking for. To give you an example, if I’m looking as a job, as a logistics manager or a buyer, there’s probably about 80% coverage between the two of those, they’re still in the same ecosystem. They’re going to be covering a lot of the same skills. When I work with a client and they’re thinking about multiple areas, I always tell them, let’s start with the base one. Let’s start with one that’s most interesting and we can tweak from there and see how much work is involved in the second version.
From the standpoint of customizing your resume, if you’ve got a resume version, that’s like 90% there, what I suggest that people do is a three-step process. Anytime that they’re applying to a job, number one, take a look at the resume, save a copy of it to your desktop and spend five minutes, literally, five minutes, tweaking the resume a little bit on the top third of the first page, your header, the title, maybe a little bit about yourself and the jobs and the keywords and skills spend five minutes going through and tweaking that. Let’s say you use the word logistics in your resume, but the job description says supply chain. I know they’re not completely interchangeable, but some people use them that way. Maybe you need to tweak a little bit of the wording to include supply chain. You spend five minutes, try to guess to the best of your ability, what the keywords are. Go ahead, submit your resume and then apply.
Step two is where LinkedIn comes in. Anybody that is serious about their job search is using LinkedIn as the key tool. When you’re a job seeker, you’re selling a product. You’re selling yourself and you need to think about it from that same perspective. See if you can make an educated guess about who the hiring manager is. Then step three is send them an InMail, which is a premium service. Send them an InMail and tell them, look, I just wanted to introduce myself. I have applied online to this job. I have X years of experience. I’d love to talk to you. I’ve
attached a copy of my resume for your reference. Thank you for your time and consideration. And what you’re doing there is you’re basically doing two things. Number one. Is you’re validating that you’ve managed to follow their gatekeeping process. You’ve told them that you’ve already applied online. That way they can’t just shunt you off and say, okay, go and apply online. The other part is that you’ve also demonstrated extra initiative. The people that work harder at it, the people that put in that additional effort to try to find people where they can make an impact, they do get that additional look. It doesn’t work a hundred percent of the time, but it works enough that it does make a difference in a career search. People appreciate the initiative. If they don’t appreciate it, all you’ve lost is a few minutes of your time. I’ve seen it enough times when I was an in-house recruiter where there were the hiring managers off at lunch, they get a message on LinkedIn from one of the candidates. They walked over to my desk and said, Hey, can you screen this person, I’d like to learn more about them. Think about how recruiters use this. They may get 10,000 resumes, but they’re going to use the keyword search to narrow it down. They’re going to start with the ones that are the hundred percent match and work their way down. So, they’ve got a stack of five or 10 resumes that they like, and they’re going to share with the hiring manager.
The more that you can do to try to hit it from both ends, try to make your resume more appealing to the recruiter, and then try to reach out to the hiring manager. The one big mistake that a lot of people make though, is they go ahead and they try to reach out to the recruiter at the company and the recruiters thinking, well, geez, I’ve got 10,000 resumes. I’m working on 50 open jobs. I’ve got half a million resumes to look through. Why are they contacting me? If you hit the manager, it’s their problem that you’re solving. If a hiring manager doesn’t have someone in their job, that means that either the work isn’t getting done or they’re doing it themselves, or they’ve got their team members doing it and they’re all frustrated. So, here’s the manager they’re off at lunch and then on the phone comes up with the solution to their problem.