From time to time I come across articles and essays on the Internet that talk about the importance of keywords in the resume. I keep hearing about those fancy “Applicant Tracking Systems” that will filter resumes by keywords in an attempt to deliver only suitable candidates to the recruiter. If you Google the phrase “keywords in resume”, you will get hundreds of websites that advise candidates on how to use the keywords to improve the chances of their resume or social media profile being noticed by a recruiter.
I will not argue with the importance of keywords! Of course all recruiters use keywords when they search. How else would they even find anything or anyone? For example, if I am looking for a Mortgage Specialist I am going to type the keyword “mortgage” into a search window! But that is just the beginning of the search. Once I find suitable candidates, I no longer look for the keywords in the resume, I read through it. So let me talk about the importance of reading the entire resume and actually paying attention to what is written there; let me talk about going beyond the keywords.
I can already see people rolling their eyes: “Why is she writing about this? Don’t we know how to read resumes?” Yes, of course we do. We all can read, but sometimes we are so busy we do not stop to pay attention. I myself am guilty of skimming through resumes and missing such important things as length of experience, or incomplete education, or presence of one designation but not the other. In my last blog I wrote about candidates sending irrelevant resumes to recruiters. Recruiters are also likely to contact candidates for irrelevant roles. One of my colleagues has recently received a LinkedIn message about a possible opportunity in sourcing. Yes, he is a sourcing specialist, however he is in recruitment, and the opportunity was in procurement. I used to do payroll years ago and I still get messages about accounting roles. Although I am no longer certain on how to calculate statutory holiday pay, the keyword is still there and still gets picked up, and if the recruiter has not even looked at my profile, they will keep sending me jobs I am clearly not qualified for.
When we contact candidates without giving their profile or resume due time and attention, we come across as unprofessional to say the least. Bad candidate experiences with a recruiter can create a strong negative association with the company this recruiter represents. The candidates will not appreciate us wasting their time on the roles they are clearly not qualified for or not interested in. We do the research when we are assigned a requisition, and we should put as much effort into researching the candidate. After all, the more information we have, the easier it is to short-list potential candidates. Even if the candidates are not interested, we can build a relationship with them that can result in hires, referrals or sales leads in the future. So let’s invest our time into actually reading and analyzing the information on the resume which will help us build a positive candidate experience.