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Guide to Internet Resumes

By Susan P. Joyce

Your traditional printed resume must be supplemented now with a 21st Century version that is compatible with e-mail as well as with Internet and resume database search technologies.

So, your resume must be readable by a computer system, like an applicant tracking system ("ATS") not just by a human being. In fact the computer system may well stand between your resume and the human being.

Because of the computer system, your Internet resume differs from a traditional 20th Century resume in the focus on "keywords" and format. This focus is the result of the widespread use of computer technology by employers of all sizes.

Keywords Are the Key to Being Found Today

Most recruiters use search engines and ATS sytems to find the resumes and social media profiles of qualified job candidates. Your resume or profile won't be found (or seen) unless they contain the search terms used by the recruiters.

Those search terms are the key words, a.k.a. "keywords."

So, your resume must be find-able, and the right keywords for you are essential to being found.

If you are not adapting your resume to the requirements of the new technologies, your resume may well not be seen by a person, and, if it is seen, it may not have the impact that you need it to have.


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Creating and Using Your Internet Resume

Resumes have changed significantly in the last few years with the amazing growth in our dependence on search engines, which are focused on keywords (terms used in searching). applicant tracking systems (resume databases), and other forms of technology.

  • Make your resume Cyber-safe - Protect your privacy, your identity, your home, your family, and your job (if you are employed). Don't skip this step!
  • Focus the content of your resume - small, but very important changes:

    • What are "keywords" - keywords are the terms (nouns and verbs) that employers and recruiters use when searching for the right resumes in applicant tracking systems ("ATS"), job board resume databases, and even in their own email accounts.

      • Determining Your Most Important Keywords - Increase the probability that your resume will be included in the search results when employers search through resume databases by including the right terms for you. One set of keywords is critical to the success of your job search, but you probably aren't paying much attention to them. Time to change that!
      • Adding Your Keywords to Your Resume - Focus on including these 3 categories of keywords.
    • Guide to Personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - Finding and using the right keywords for you in appropriate places so that employers find you when they are searching for someone like you. Personal SEO makes you findable if the employer is searching through Google, a job board resume database, through their own applicant tracking system ("ATS"), LinkedIn, Facebook, of your other online visibility.
  • Use your ASCII text resume - now that you have an Internet Resume, use it!

  • Change the format of your resume - a couple of short cuts for emergencies plus:

    • Converting a Word document to ASCII (plain) text - compatible with the Internet technologies, safely transits e-mail systems.

    • Personal Resume Web Page -- Add simple HTML tags to your ASCII resume, and do some "search engines optimization" so your resume will be found.

      • Hosting your Internet resume so it can be found and seen.
      • Basic HTML tags will get you started. It's best to use software specifically for creating a web page, like Dreamweaver.
      • Adding META tags should help with some of the search engines.
  • Emailing your resume successfully - not as easy as it should be:

You do still need your traditional printed resume:

  • When you have developed a relationship with a specific potential employer or a trusted recruiter who has requested your complete resume.
  • When you respond to an employer's ad or an off-line opportunity through the USPS (or "snail mail") system.

It's a good idea to include a plain, scannable version of your resume with your printed resume when you are responding via regular mail. Then, if you are the "right" candidate for the opportunity, your resume may be scanned, particularly by companies with more than 500 employees that may have an internal applicant tracking system.

[See protecting your privacy for information on evaluating Web site privacy policies, and other issues related to your personal privacy. See Choosing a Job Site for help picking web job sites.]

More Information About Successful Resumes on the Internet:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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