You hear repeatedly how great the job market is for finance and accounting professionals at all levels. Then why aren’t you getting interviews for all the positions for which you’ve submitted your resume online? Fortunately, there is something you can do about it.
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves techniques to make a website appealing to search engine algorithms. Top websites regularly consider how to make sure they’re noticed by the big search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. When it comes to your resume, stealing a few techniques from the SEO playbook can move you to the top of the list of job seekers.
Consider these five simple SEO hacks that can help you stand out from the crowd.
use relevant keywords
A website can have great information, but if it doesn’t include the key phrases a user would look for, it won’t be found. Similarly, your resume should include terms that align with what recruiters and employers use.
If prospective employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS), keywords can get you past the machine and in front of human eyes. Sophisticated ATS engines not only search for keywords, but also scan for appropriate and relevant context (i.e., listing “advanced Excel” under technical skills, certifications or prior roles won’t trick the system). Even if your future employer isn’t using an ATS, including clear, relevant keywords increases the odds that your skills will jump off the page to someone screening with limited time.
To decide which keywords will be most attractive, review job postings and the LinkedIn profiles of people in your desired role. Check out job sites like Monster or Randstad's job openings to skim finance and accounting jobs and see which descriptive terms overlap. Once you target the best keywords, be sure to use them (when appropriate) in your current and prior job descriptions, as well as in your roster of skills.
write a catchy headline
Just as websites attract readers with impactful headlines, you can employ this tactic to catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers. Consider using headline-type formatting and language on your resume. This helps hiring managers skim through your qualifications and see that you’re a candidate worth considering.
Rather than putting the names of your prior employers in bold font, make your job titles the focus, including keywords whenever you can.
Think like a headline writer and weave standout language into your bullet points in job descriptions. For example, a financial analyst might use phrases like “boosted profits by 30 percent” or “slashed costs 20 percent.” This sounds stronger than “increased,” right?
Exciting and — it goes without saying — accurate language can make you stand out and earn you a second look.
add relevant hyperlinks
Online, hyperlinks to credible sources improve your readability and page rank within search engines. On a resume, relevant hyperlinks can provide hiring managers evidence that you’re the best candidate for the position. These links should direct hiring managers to examples of your projects and work, not to your previous employer’s homepage.
Content is king for websites. Informative, well-written and concise articles improve SEO. When refining your resume, keep this in mind and use tight, quality verbiage.
Eliminate unnecessary words. Generic phrases should be deleted as well as clichés like “excellent communicator,” “team player,” “results oriented” and “motivated self-starter.” Also ditch passive words and phrases such as “was responsible for” and instead opt for active words like “directed.”
Finally, use numbers, percentages and dollars since they are easier to digest than text. Instead of “top financial analyst,” choose “more than $1 million saved by implementing a new ERP system” or “boosted profits by 20 percent in Q3.”
include social media profiles
On a website, social media links allow readers to share and like content. In turn, these social media shares improve SEO. Likewise, including your social media handles on your resume is a great way to demonstrate your finance and accounting industry knowledge and personal brand.
If your LinkedIn profile is properly maintained and up to date, include a link to it in your resume so recruiters can easily see your connections, recommendations, projects and more. If you use these professionally, you can also include links to your Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Instagram profiles.
To be highly effective, your finance and accounting resume should be brief and to the point. These simple SEO strategies can help you streamline your content and concisely demonstrate that you’re a candidate worth a second look.
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