Are your Linkedin profile and resume SEO friendly?

Resume and Profile Search Engine Optimization
Job boards and social media have totally changed the game for job seekers and recruiters.   Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) can give you the upper hand when developing your on-line profile and resume.

There are over 175 million users on Linkedin. More than 5 million are Canadian.  Hundreds of job candidates may apply for the job that you want and so you need to get out of the clutter.  Here are a few tips that will help you to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of being found.

Tip #1 - Key Words

Most employers use search engines and indexed database technology to find matching words and phrases contained within a resume or online profile.  It is very important that your resume and Linkedin profile contain the words and phrases that employers will most likely use in their search and filtering process.  Try using several different ways to describe your skills, knowledge, experience and job titles. For example, when using acronyms, you should also use the full words. When writing your job title, try to use descriptive words in your job description that might match similar titles used within other companies. When describing your industry, use a variety of common terms that have similar meanings.

For example, a human resources professional in the placement industry may use all these terms and phrases. (HR, H.R. Human Resources, Staffing, Recruit, Recruitment, Recruiter, Placement, Executive Search, Employment, Temporary Help, Temp Help, etc.)

You never know what terms, phrases, acronyms or words that a recruiter will enter when conducting a search.  If you can not use the words with a meaningful and properly structured sentence then just create a section at the bottom of your profile called "Key Words" and list your words separated by a comma. This is a very acceptable and understood on-line protocol.

Tip #2 - .doc File Format

Employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to store and sort the resumes and the applications they receive. Most ATS are capable of handling Microsoft word .doc or .docx file formats but many have difficulty handling resumes in other formats such as PDF, wpd, html and other standards. These other  formats may have their advantages but not when attaching your resume to an on-line application form. If the words and phrases within your resume cannot be extracted by the ATS then you run the risk that your application will never be seen by a real person. Always submit your resume in the world's most common format.

Tip #3 - People Contact Trumps All

The unspoken problem with on-line systems and social media is that they make it easy to avoid real human interaction. In the end, people hire people.  The entire purpose of on-line applications, digital resumes or social networks is to efficiently figure out who you need to talk to.  Your resume or profile is just a means to an end.  Stay focused on the end goal by figuring out who the HR or hiring manager is and send them a personal note pointing out that you have applied on-line. Include a professional letter that contains information that will motivate them to bypass the computer sorting process and go directly to your application. Try to make contact in person, over the phone or by email. Go for the close or "Call to Action".  Your email or voice message should always propose dates and times for a telephone conversation or meeting.  Always repeat and provide easily accessible contact information. If a decision maker has to go back to open your profile, read your resume or take any extra step to call you then you may have squandered an opportunity to connect in person.

We frequently hear people talk about how lucky or unlucky they are in their job search. Luck has nothing to do with it. "The smarter you work, the luckier you'll get" and  "It's not what you know, its who you know. "

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Comment by Bob McIntosh on September 24, 2012 at 7:24pm

Awesome article, Steve. You confirm in a coherent way what I've heard and also opened my eyes to other facts. Are you familiar with Preptel, and do you think it benefits jobseekers? Thanks again. I'll post this to my LinkedIn connections and hopefully they'll glean some information about resume and LI profile SEO friendly.

Comment by Steve Jones on September 24, 2012 at 9:06pm

Hi Bob, I'm certainly not a Preptel expert.  I understand the Preptel concept is to use the same technologies on the resume development side and on the job search that are used by recruiters' HRIS and ATS.  It is certainly the right idea.  Preptel has some great resources, advice and articles.  And its free for job seekers.  What has your experience been like?

Comment by Martin O'Shea on September 25, 2012 at 2:02am

Great piece Steve, thanks for sharing. Hope you don't mind if I share it on my Twitter account "@Agilis_HK". Wouldn't it make sense for the employers to place a key words on the job specs too? if they needed more applicants that is. 
Was just having a look at the Preptel website you two had mentioned, read some ridiculous stats such as only 1% of applicants get an interview because the remaining applicants either are using the wrong words or have had formatting issues etc. 

Comment by Steve Jones on September 25, 2012 at 6:36am

Hi Martin,  Thanks for the comments.  RT Yes ReTweet away. No permission required.   You make a good point about a key word list within job postings.  I always recommend that an online job posting contain a keywords list.  Job postings often have subheadings like Experience, Skills, Benefits, Education...  so why not Key Words?  An effective example is when recruiting sales people for office products.  Try listing all the manufacturer names Xerox, Pitney Bowes, Canon, Konica, Kodak, HP, Kyocera, Samsung, etc.  Its amazing how the targeted applicant response increases.  In the world of science, technology and engineering, its difficult to include very rare and technical words within sentences.  A key word list may help you find that one-and-only rare candidate who specializes in "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" (a type of lung disease).


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