how to optimize your resume for ATS and the web.

  • resumes
  • January 01, 2020

You found your dream job, carefully tailored your resume and clicked “submit,” but you haven’t heard anything back. What gives?

With all of today’s recruiting technologies, not hearing back on a job you’re qualified for is likely more of a question of being unfound rather than being unfit. There’s a good chance your resume didn’t make it through the employer’s applicant tracking system, or ATS, which they use to help source an initial pool of candidates.

Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it — it’s called search engine optimization (SEO). In general use, SEO refers to techniques to make web content more appealing and relevant to search engine algorithms. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find a top website today that wasn’t designed with SEO in mind. And when it comes to your resume, adopting techniques from the SEO playbook confers distinct advantages, too. Here are five simple SEO hacks for resume optimization to make it more ATS-friendly and get it to the top of the pile.

1. use relevant keywords

A website might have great content on it, but if it doesn’t include keywords and phrases that users are looking for, it simply won’t be found by the search engines. And that same principle holds true for your resume in relation to an ATS.

magnifying glassif you don’t include terms that recruiters and employers are likely to use in searching for candidates, how do you expect to be found?

Be mindful of the fact that sophisticated ATS engines are able to not only search for keywords, but also scan for appropriate and relevant context — so simply tacking on a laundry list of keywords to the end of your resume won’t be enough to trick the system.

But which keywords should you use? To find out, try these two steps:

  • Review the LinkedIn profiles of people in your desired role and field, jotting down any terms or phrases that come up again and again.
  • Search Randstad’s job openings for relevant roles, looking carefully at the language recruiters and companies are using in their job descriptions — some of this language needs to be included in your resume.

Building an ATS resume means not only using the right keywords, but using them in the right way. If you keep this golden rule in mind as you write, you’ll be fast-tracked from the machine to human eyes.

2. write a catchy headline

Many websites rely on compelling headlines to drive traffic, and why shouldn’t you do the same when it comes to catching the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers? For starters, you should consider putting the name of the position you are applying for in the title. If you’re applying for, say, an accounts payable role, you might use “Highly Experienced Accounts Payable (AP) Professional” as your headline. This announces right away that you’re a candidate whose background and experience are aligned with the requirements of the role.

person thinking

try to think like a headline writer when crafting the bullet points in job descriptions.

For example, an office manager might use phrases like “boosted overall productivity by 30 percent” or “slashed vendor costs by 20 percent.” After all, these words sound stronger than simply “increased” or “decreased,” right? Exciting, quantifiable, action-oriented language should help you stand out and command attention.

3. add relevant hyperlinks

Web content that includes hyperlinks to credible source material tends to have a higher page rank within search engines than content that does not. You can apply the same principle to your resume-optimization strategy. But don’t just link to your previous employer’s website. Instead, try to link to examples of relevant recent projects or work — anything that will be taken as evidence by the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job.

4. streamline content

Informative articles tend to have higher SEO rankings on search engines today. And when refining your resume, keep this insight in mind.

resume

use tight, quality verbiage, eliminating any unnecessary words.

You should also try to ditch passive words and phrases such as “was responsible for” in favor of active words like “directed,” “captained” or “spearheaded.” Finally, include numbers, percentages and dollar amounts as much as possible, since these can help break up the text and make it easier to digest.

5. include social media profiles

Including your LinkedIn profile on your resume is a great way to help recruiters and hiring managers put a face to your name. Just make sure your profile is professional, properly maintained and up to date. Link to it on your resume so recruiters can easily see your connections, recommendations, projects and more.

Armed with these simple SEO resume-optimization strategies, you should be all set to land your next gig in no time. Want to find out the moment relevant opportunities become available? Sign up for Randstad's job alerts — just tell us the kind of position you want, and we'll email you when we find it.