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Keyword Optimization Vs. Keyword Stuffing

In previous articles we have written about the importance of updating your resume for each job you apply to. The goal is to make sure you demonstrate that you are a good match for the specific job opening with your resume. How do you do this? The answer is to incorporate keywords from the job posting within your resume.


Why? Well, if an applicant tracking system (ATS) is being used to evaluate the resume, it will be searching for the keywords. Your resume will earn a higher ranking if keywords are incorporated. In addition, a recruiter that scans your resume is also looking to see if they find the keywords pertinent to the job opening. Therefore, having keywords incorporated within the document is beneficial for both the computer and human reviewing the resume.


However, some job seekers take it too far. In an effort to elevate their resume, they stuff it with keywords. Here are three ways job seekers go wrong.


1. Overuse


Some job seekers will try to cram each keyword in multiple times in hopes of obtaining a higher ranking by the ATS. The issue is that the resume often become unreadable.


Consider the following example:


"Excellent communicator with the ability to communicate effectively through oral communication and written communication."


The job seeker has fit the word communicate in the resume four times within the same sentence since that was a keyword on the job posting. However, the sentence doesn't read well and will not entice the human being that ultimately will make a decision about whether or not to pursue the candidate.


2. Hidden


Recruiters have shared with Revision Resume that they have seen job seekers try to cheat the system. One example they have shared is that some candidates hide keywords within the resume by using small, white font. The ATS reports that a list of keywords are on the resume but when the recruiter reads the resume, they don't see the keywords within the content. This obviously raises a big red flag.


Attempting to cheat the system is not wise. You are likely to be caught and then your application will be discarded.


3. Dishonest


In some cases, a job seeker includes keywords on their resume that they can't actually back up with real-life experience. If a job description indicates they would like a candidate with proficiency using CAD, you should only include it on your resume if you truly have proficiency using CAD. Don't list that keyword on your resume just to have your resume selected for an interview, because you can be sure you will be asked about your CAD experience during the interview. When you can't back up the claim on your resume, your dishonesty will become apparent. Again, this will raise a red flag and likely result in the company deciding to pursue other candidates.


Properly optimizing the keywords on your resume is the key to a successful job search. The goal is not to "beat the system," but to be sure the skills you have that align with the opening are clearly visible to anyone reviewing your resume. You want your qualifications seen when your resume is evaluated. Review your resume and see where you can add details that incorporate keywords from the job posting. In some cases, you may need to just insert a word or two. Other times, you may want to re-write a specific bullet point to ensure the keyword is accurately incorporated.


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