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Get the edge: Buzzwords in your resume


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Wouldn't it be great if you could sprinkle a few magic words into your resume that would miraculously catapult it to the top of the heap in an interviewer's office?

No hocus pocus is needed -- adding certain "buzzwords" to your resume could do just that.

How resumes are distributed and retrieved is changing the way they are prepared. Today, a resume often has two audiences:

  • The traditional interviewer who will read the actual paper copy of your resume, and
  • The high-speed resume scanner or online posting site that flags particular resumes for the interviewer to review based on specified search requirements.
  • With this in mind, you must cater to both audiences -- the autonomous and the automated -- and showcase your experience in a way that gets you noticed by both.

    Scanners -- beyond the supermarket: They aren't just for groceries anymore. Today, many firms use resume scanning, coding and retrieval systems to assist them in systematically weeding through the hundreds of resumes they often receive for a particular opening. Or, they may enlist the services of an online employment site that offers access to a resume bank containing thousands of resumes.

    In either case, a recruiter will specify a string of search criteria composed of keywords that apply to the position. By incorporating industry-specific jargon in your resume, you assure it will be retrieved in a search for a job in your field. Some scanning systems even rank the resumes by the number of keywords found.

    Buzzwords all resumes need to include: Here are some examples of the kinds of buzzwords recruiters input in a resume search:

  • Keywords included in the job posting: Most ads are loaded with buzzwords the company deems important. Take your cues straight from the source and include those same words in your resume. Look for important nouns and verbs in the listing. This means tweaking your resume to accommodate various job openings.
  • Job titles/departments: manager, supervisor, human resources, accounting.
  • Computer program proficiencies: CAD, Oracle, Excel.
  • Degrees or certifications: MBA, LPN, CPA.
  • Skill-based descriptors: managed, supervised, team player, independent worker.
  • General business terms: budget, sales quota, information services.
  • Well-known companies for which you worked: IBM, Citibank, GMC.
  • Industry-specific acronyms: NASDAQ, MIT, ASCII.
  • Include a keyword section: You may prefer to add a keyword section or career summary to your resume. This is usually a paragraph near the top of the resume that lists pertinent key phrases and buzzwords related to your experience and expertise solely for use in an electronic search.

    Keep it scanner-friendly: Besides including those elements that make your resume scanner friendly, remember you also must remove some items to assure proper reading of your resume by the scanner, such as most formatting features (bullets, bolding, underlining, etc.).

    Since scannable resumes tend to be, well, downright ugly, you may want to send an accompanying customary resume and mark it as "read only."

    Scanned resumes reap the benefit of repeated searches: Once scanned into a company's database, your resume can be accessed repeatedly any time an interviewer activates a search in the future.

    Be able to back up those buzzwords: It is important to remember that while you are packing your resume chock-full of buzzwords, make sure they accurately represent your experience and you know what they all mean.

    © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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