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Resume Keywords Trick

The last thing you need is an HR person (or worse yet – an automated system) pre-disqualifying you for a position because of details in a job description they don’t really understand. Some hiring managers include an alphabet soup of certifications and list optional qualifications when submitting the request to HR.Because of the high volume of resumes that companies receive, they’re increasingly turning to searchable electronic databases of resumes. People completely unfamiliar with the real job requirements may be those tasked with providing qualified candidates. Is there any hope of making the cut?

There may be, depending on how you feel about the approach I’m about to describe. It requires tremendous care in its implementation because a misstep could ruin the chances that your resume would ever be considered again by that company for any position.

When reading a job description that quite closely fits your experience, education, and professional aspirations, you’ll probably come across a few qualifications that you don’t have. Sometimes companies get over-confident and much more demanding than they have reason to be.

Frankly, I get a little angry sometimes when I see a laundry list of candidate requirements that very few people could possibly meet. Very often those impossible demands are matched with a dismal salary range that indicates that the company thinks that just working there is reward enough. (You’re probably better off steering clear of those folks anyway.)

Here’s the trick: if there are only a few requirements that you’re missing, list them in a section toward the bottom of your resume under one of the following headings:

  • Willing to learn (skills, programming languages, etc.)
  • Willing to earn (degrees, certifications, etc.)
  • Also interested in (anything else you can think of)

This is not a way of securing a job for which you’re completely unqualified. The primary goal of the trick is simply to get past someone in HR who is unfamiliar with what is really required for an open position. You still have to “earn” the job, i.e., convince the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the position. This trick gets you one step closer to making your case.

At that point it comes down to a couple of things:

  1. Whether s/he thinks you have been deceptive
  2. How close a fit you truly are for the position (or how much closer a fit you are relative to the other applicants)

Use this trick with discretion and make sure you’re up front with the hiring manager regarding your level of familiarity (or experience) with things you’ve listed on your resume. To do otherwise would be a disservice to everyone involved.

Question(s) of the day:

Have you ever used this trick? What has helped you get past a useless first round of applicant screening?

2 comments to Resume Keywords Trick

  • Ollezaza

    I have not used this “trick” but I am adding it to my resume right now!

    Like you, and I’m sure many others, I find it insulting that many job listings, especially IT jobs, place a scatter-shot approach to skills they say are “required”. I’ve read so many positions that I know there is no way that they will find someone with the complete skillset, at least not at the salary range that VERY FEW postings are brave enough to list.

    In my last job, my boss asked our team of 6 people to compile a list of skills we thought were needed for the job. We gave him this info, he came back a few days later to have us all review the results. We all agreed that not only could NO ONE person in our group match all the requirements, but even all seven of us could not match all the desired skills.

    As long as the keywords used are relevant to the applicant’s personal and professional experience, I think your idea is fair and sincere.

  • wow i didn’t know they used automatic ways to approve resumes


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