Tech Tips for a Tough Job Market: How to Optimize Your Online Resume
By Michelle Vessel
The current economic climate poses a number of formidable challenges for today's job seekers. Even if you're able to find a company that's hiring, the competition for open positions can be very stiff. In short, it's more important than ever to make sure your application materials make it to the top of the pile.
To succeed in today's tight job market, job seekers need to make full use of every resource available to them. The more comprehensive your approach to the job search, the more likely you'll be to uncover suitable opportunities.
According to renowned career coach Richard Nelson Bolles, author of classic guides like What Color is Your Parachute? and Job Hunting Online, a multi-front job search strategy is the best way to guarantee success, even in a period of economic decline. In 2009, that means that the Internet has got to figure as a key part of your job search plan.
Resumes Designed to Shine Online
If you're like most job seekers, you probably already use the Internet to research companies and peruse online job postings. But when it comes to submitting application materials online, many tech-savvy jobseekers fail to make the most of what this unique medium has to offer. Some resort to cutting and pasting their hard-copy resumes into online application forms, while others take the easy way out and simply attach the document file to an email.
While both of these methods may work in a crunch, formatting problems and other cosmetic shortcomings may not present your experience in the best light. According to Martin Yate, the expert behind the perennial bestseller Knock 'em Dead Resumes, your online resume should be a separate document that you've created specifically for emails and Internet-based job applications.
Ready to create a document that's designed to catch the eye of even the most finicky hiring manager? Use these tips to optimize your online resume.
* Limit the bells and whistles. Although it's always smart to keep a traditional, graphics-rich version of your resume on hand for printing out on paper, your online resume should be as streamlined and functional as possible. Use a plain text editor such as NotePad to create a basic document that you can easily cut and paste into online application forms or insert into the body of an email.
* Incorporate keywords organically. If you plan to post your resume online, it's important to include enough specific, industry-related terms to ensure that interested hiring managers will be able to find you via search engines. Pick four or five words or phrases that most closely describe your experience, and the type of position you're interested in. Work them in throughout your resume, but be sure that they make sense in context.
* Eliminate fluff and needless filler. The best online resumes are those that skip the purple prose and get right to the point. With digital files, the window of opportunity to capture a hiring manager's attention is even shorter than it is with a hard-copy resume, so it's vital that you state your case as clearly and concisely as possible. Insert a summary paragraph at the top of your resume that briefly outlines your background, qualifications, and desired role.
* Use basic formatting tools to maintain readability. Even when you're working in the bare-bones plain text file format that most online job applications require, you can still create a document that looks professional and is easy to read. In most programs, you can use the 'Enter' key to create hard breaks between paragraphs and insert some much-needed 'white space' on the page. Additionally, you can use characters such as asterisks and dashes to create bullet lists, page breaks, or an underline effect. Still, it's important to keep the overall look simple and streamlined.
* Check for errors, typos, mistakes, and outdated information. When you've got just seconds to make a good first impression, even one error can be enough to make a hiring manager lose interest. Take care to ensure that your online resume is error-free. Have a friend or colleague with a knack for language double-check your document just to be sure. Revisit your online resume often to add updated information and make sure everything's still in place.
Your online resume is an important part of your job search strategy. It's worth it to invest a bit of time, planning, and effort you need to make the most of this key resource!