Career Coaching on Cover Letters and Resumes
How to Get Your Resume and Cover Letter Past the Software Filters and HR Flunkies Who Stand Between You and an Interview
Many of our career coaching clients want to know how to write a killer cover letter and resume, and there are a lot of experts who can help them write good content into their cover letters and cv’s. But these experts rarely ensure their techniques keep up with the latest in technology. Effective career coaching on cover letters and resumes adds a few critical techniques. And the best technique in writing a cover letter or resume are the words contained in the job description itself.
Because there are two filters between your resume and cover letter, on the one hand, and an interview on the other. One of those filters is a piece of software at the company you’re applying to; it operates like a search engine. The other filter is a human resources person who often doesn’t really understand the job requirements or how the applicant’s background might be transferable to them and is therefore reduced to acting a lot like aFree Coaching Consultation piece of software: not much independent judgment, creativity, or imagination. So what are these filters looking for?
Both filters look for keywords.
Just like search engines.
It’s just common sense that your resume and cover letter should address many of the qualifications requested by the job posting. But it’s important to use identical or very similar words in doing so. That’s because the filters are looking for very specific words, and if they don’t find enough of them, your application will end up on the equivalent of the 20th page of Google. Which is to say that it will not be passed on to a human with decision-making authority. If the first filter a company applies is a piece of software, your application may not get reviewed by a human being at all.
So it becomes very important to get past their filters.
As an example, if a job asked for “project management and managerial experience,” your resume and cover letter both should contain those exact words. What’s more, they should contain variations on the root words contained in that description.
What are root words? In this example:
But that’s not all:
projecting (an example, but not necessarily a good word in this context)
Finally, there are words that are not roots but are likely to show up in a relevant page having to do with the topic at hand, such as, in this case, SAP, Siebel, Java, Linux, server, and so on. The search engines know that these words often show up with “project management,” and so do the software filters used by human resources.
This use of root words, also called “stemming,” is exactly what search engines do to determine which web pages on the Internet have the most relevance to a searcher’s search.
In a job application, the company has made its search. It has typed in a lengthy job description.
Your cover letter and resume are like web pages. Will you make them relevant — or will they not come up on the search results pages at all?
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