Resume Search Optimization

Sep 10 2010 in Hiring Systems/ATS, Job Search Strategy, Job Search/Career Change, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

resume search optimization, resume, job, job search, career, career coach, career change

Are you getting a 20% response rate to your resume? If you are, stop reading, this article isn’t for you. Otherwise, read more to learn how use resume search optimization to increase your resume response rate …

If you’re getting less than a 20% response rate to your resume, then your resume is working against you and blocking you from interviews for great positions. Unfortunately, most of the population falls into the 0 – 2% category (NOT a typo).

Have you ever felt that your resume goes into a black hole, and that no one ever looks at it?

Guess what, you’re probably right. If you’d like to do something to change that, read on …

Companies use databases (applicant tracking systems) to store and then pre-screen resumes, based on words in the resume itself – not the cover letter. In most cases, the cover letter gets stripped from your resume. On the other hand, most of us (Boomers, Gen X & Y) were taught to write a static resume, and customize with a cover letter. Sound familiar?

And it worked in the olden days of paper resumes. But in the internet age, where resumes are delivered electronically, loaded into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) database, and searched, the cover letter is stripped and not included in the search.

Throw out the teaching of old, and embrace a new more effective way of resume strategy – Resume Search Optimization.

If your resume is searched in a database, it’s searched for by keywords. Have you ever done a keyword search yourself? You probably do one every day of your life … it’s called Google. You probably search for 1 or 2 words, 3 – 4 in a really detailed search, returning hundreds of thousands of responses. Employers/recruiters don’t want that many responses, so they typically search for 7 – 10 keywords to narrow the field down to 50 or so who meet nearly all of their criteria.

Companies pay big money to consultants to search optimize their web pages, to make them appear at the top of a Google search.

You can do the same thing with your resume. But it requires you to think a different way.

Start with a solid base resume that paints you as a subject matter expert in your field. Then take the job description, and load your resume with key words in the specific job description that you’re applying for. Since each company uses its own language and has its own priorities using a standard set of keywords doesn’t work very well today.

But since almost all job descriptions are obsolete, using the words in the job ad won’t get you very far. To search optimize your resume, you need to gain information from the people who are already working on the problems you want to solve … from the employer’s staff. That’s who really knows the hiring manager’s problems and priorities.

So how many resume templates will you have?

One for each job you apply to … because to search optimize your resume effectively, it turns your resume into a single use document. Each employer gets a heavily customized resume.

Yes, it takes more time per resume. But it gives you an unfair advantage, of gaming the ATS database, and forcing your resume to the top 2-3% more often. And gets your resume seen by humans … a much greater percentage of the time.

Basically, resume search optimization allows you to stack the odds in your favor.

Let’s contrast this to the way most of us were taught to write resumes – creating a static resume, focused with a cover letter. This strategy made sense when resumes were delivered on paper – they had to be static, because we took them to a print shop. So we were taught how to focus a static resume with a cover letter, because it would be unreasonable to go to Kinko’s to print a custom resume for each job we applied to.

The internet changed delivery methods to digital and flooded companies with candidates – it increased candidate competition. But on the plus side, digital resume delivery made it easy to highly customize a resume for a specific employer.

Using a static resume today, in a bad job market, where resumes are pre-screened by databases can be described as hoping the words on your resume will magically match the words a company is searching for … pretty bad odds. These bad odds become even worse when there are 5-6 unemployed for every advertised job and when hundreds (or thousands) apply for each job advertised.

Is it any wonder that resume response rates are typically so low?

But still, this is the method that most candidates still use … and defend fiercely. Why?

I think static resumes are a tradition that are so ingrained in our habits that it becomes difficult for many candidates to change. It’s how we were taught, it’s how we’ve always looked for jobs, and it worked last time we looked for a job.

But when was the last time you looked for a job? And what’s changed since then? Were digital resumes the norm, or did you send paper (or fax)? Was the job market decent, or was it the worst job market in 60 years like today’s market?

What motivates you more … tradition, or a job?


Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?

To attend our next complimentary live webinar featuring action items to double your resume response rate and number of interviews, plus live career Q&A with Phil Rosenberg of reCareered, register at .

Available Now On Amazon: Job Search Secrets - Rethink Your Job Search Now, By Phil Rosenberg

Phil shows you why your current job search strategies work against you and how to replace them with strategies that improve your odds. Phil provides you with research - cold, hard statistics provided by job boards and hiring managers themselves, to show you what works for you and against you in the worst job market in our lifetimes.

Download Job Search Secrets on Amazon

Join our mailing list for newsletters, announcements of complimentary upcoming webinars and other job search resources. Sign up at

For access to more information:
Connect to Phil Rosenberg on Linkedin:
Follow reCareered on Linkedin:
Like reCareered on Facebook:
Follow Phil Rosenberg on Google+:
Follow reCareered on Twitter:
Join Career Change Central on Linkedin:

Author: Phil Rosenberg

You might also like

Resume Search Optimization Are you getting a 25% response rate to your resume? If you are, stop reading, this article isn’t for...
Job Search Checklist #6: Resume response rate Next step on your job search checklist ... learn how to calculate and evaluate your resume response...
Differentiate Your Resume With a Winning Strategy: Fishing and Response Resumes The majority of candidates, executive though staff, write resumes and apply to jobs in roughly the same...
You Receive Job Search Feedback – But Is It Reliable? Job seekers are starved for feedback, to gain any guidance from employers they can get. It's no...