The way that employers go about sorting through resumes in recent years has changed dramatically because of technology. Now many employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to automate and manage much of the hiring process where keywords are used to filter through applicants. When you’re able to pepper in the right keywords throughout your resume, you stand a much better chance of getting found and ultimately moving on to the next stage of the hiring process. However, there are a few things you need to know in order to do this successfully.

The Benefits of Using Keywords

In many cases, employers will receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes from applicants hoping to land an available position. Sorting through a massive pile of resumes manually is a time-consuming endeavor; so many employers prefer to streamline the process by using an ATS.

While an ATS serves many purposes, one of its main features is to screen resumes by searching for specific keywords that suggest that an applicant is qualified for the job at hand. When you include the keywords an ATS is looking for, your resume may make it to the next round of hiring and eventually in the hands of a human recruiter.

Avoiding Keyword Stuffing

Although a few well-placed keywords in your resume are advantageous, don’t go overboard to the point that you’re keyword stuffing because it can be counterproductive and hurt your chances of getting hired. That’s because ATS robotics will often detect excessive keywords, and it’s basically a red flag that you’re trying to “game the system,” which is likely to result in your resume being discarded.

Writing a Resume for Humans and an ATS

Ideally, you’ll strike a balance when using keywords where there’s a nice ratio. You want to include enough keywords to get noticed by an ATS but not so many that you’re stuffing keywords into your resume. If it sounds unnatural when reading through it, you’ve probably gone overboard and should trim back slightly on your keywords. Use your best judgment on this. The bottom line is that your resume should have enough keywords to be found by an ATS but still be fluid and read naturally to human recruiters.

Understanding the role that technology plays in modern recruiting and adapting accordingly is important when performing a job search. By using keywords to your advantage, you stand a much better chance of appeasing an ATS and ultimately making yourself appealing to recruiters. As a result, you can distinguish yourself from the competition and land a job with greater ease.

For more career advice on finding the right position for you, check out our job search tips.


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