Tim’s Tips: Resume Keyword Relevancy

Here's the first in a series of job seeking tips from my buddy, Tim. He recruits in the Sales, Services and IT space, but his tips are relevant regardless of the functional space. He can also be pretty funny, but don't tell him I said that. Take it away, Tim:

OK!  Here’s a tip….Relevancy.  You are probably thinking yeah, yeah, write my resume so that my background paragraphs are “relevant” to the job description.  I’ll give you a point or two for that, but I am talking about relevancy algorithms that are built/being built/being improved in systems all over the place.  There are a number of companies that have developed cool relevancy engines as part of their software products.  The big job boards are constantly updating their “ranking” features.  The rankings/relevancy boil down to how often a particular term/phrase shows up in your resume.  If you are a product manager and it says that 5 times on your resume, you will be ranked lower than someone who uses that term 30 times in theirs.  Here’s the kicker…the new tools (and I just got approval to start playing with a cool new engine from EDM Logic!) not only look at the number of times your term or phrase shows up, but also looks at what OTHER terms and phrases show up in the resumes that have the highest number of instances of the term or the ones that are chosen as “best fits”.  So for example if your resume has the term SharePoint 10 times and I, as a recruiter, pull a profile and decide it is a good fit (on paper), the relevancy tool will look at other terms in that resume, and then go out and pull other resumes that now have those sets of terms.  Then, some tools will actually go deeper and suggest terms that show up in the profiles that you may not have known were even there, further refining your profile.


So, what does that mean?  When you build your resume make sure to include terms that are associated with your core skills.  So if you have SharePoint several times, make sure you use terms like Enterprise Search; Collaboration; BI; Portal;  InfoPath; Forms Services; Excel Services…..etc.  Because the day is coming when the engines recruiters use will be pulling resumes not just based on a few Boolean search terms, but rather on profiles derived from terms known to fit a specific role.  If you disagree, please feel free to ping Heather and leave me out of it!


Comments (15)

  1. Josh Maher says:

    Interesting tip, but wouldn’t this mean people who jump jobs every couple months are higher in the list then those that stick around to actually complete a project? Or even worse, those that know all the buzzwords can filter to the top; while, resumes that explain real successes would not?

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Josh, not necessarily. There’s nothing that says that someone who has jumped around a lot would have more words on their resume or even the right words. Plus, the recruiter could see the job hopping on the resume and use that as criteria as to whether to engage the prospect.

    Those that know all the buzzwords can filter to the top? Yes, that is right. That’s what search engine optimization is all about. This can be true of anyone. We aren’t suggesting that a resume is THE criteria that a candidate’s fit for a position is based on; just that there’s a benefit to appearing at the top of a search list, especially because recruiters frequently aren’t able to make it through an entire lengthy list of search results. The resume is just what gets you considered. This advice is for everyone based on the reality of how search engines work.

  3. Jim S says:

    wouldn’t it make sense to tie the keywords to dates of employment?

  4. Francesco Esposito says:

    So what is going rate for Tim to evaluate our resumes for search engine compatability? lol…

    Any chance he would want to use mine as a lab rat of sorts and criticue it openly on the site? The comments and improvements that came from the analysis alone would be enough to make it worth while. I am sure there would be some value to your visitors getting a first hand comparison of what a huge diffrence certain words can make.

    Plus, who doesn’t want to have their resume (and in effect their experience) turned into a public whipping boy?

    **End Shameless Attempt at Resume Evaluation**

    Good Post 😛

    – Francesco

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jim, not sure I understand the question.

    Francesco, Tim has more of these tips to share so stay tuned 🙂

  6. Jim S says:

    I was thinking that an HR search engine could be built that reads dates of employment so as to determine the amount of experience that candidates have. It would be a pretty simple thing and less painful than manual searches. Why not run it by some exec. It would be useful inhouse and potentially profitable if marketed. I know MS is a big company and they may already have something like this.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    I don’t think you could do that since search engines are just looking for keywords. If you had prospects build their resume on a website using fields, you could do that because you could tell the search to look in that field.

    I don’t think there are any plans for MS to market a resume search engine. Not really a space that we have been involved in.

  8. Jim S says:

    I misspoke, I should have said software rather than search engine. A software package sold to HR depts of large companies that get resumes en masse. Seems like it would be a nifty tool. Do you use a CMS currently?

  9. sarahher@earthlink.net says:

    Wow. Small world for sure….I found out about Heather’s blog through Tim’s Aquent blog…because I’m signed up with Aquent in the LA area BUT I also used to work FTE for Microsoft in Redmond (and still do contract work with them).

    Appreciate the wise words on resume construction. I’m about to update mine, and as a creative marketer(copywriter/cd/brand maven), I sometimes get carried away waxing rhapsodic about my ideation abilities and thought leadership and squishy stuff like that–and forget to be specific about technical skills/technology knowledge (such as managing content on the MSW SharePoint site for more than two years) that are also part of the package.

    So hello and thanks to you both!



  10. Francesco says:

    Careful, sounds like Jim is trying to sell you something, lol!

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jim S – it doens’t really work like that unfortunately. We do have a tracking system, of course.

    Sarah- you are welcome! Hope that resume finds it’s way back to Microsoft 🙂

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Francesco- yeah, we get a lot of that here, huh? Where’s that resume certification guy? He never came back, did he?

  13. Vicki70 says:

    Good tips -but still a frustrating read.

    While I am all about the Electronic/Digital Age, it is disheartening to know that it isn’t about one’s resume so much as it is about how many ‘hits’ show up after a search.

    If you don’t speak the corporate lingo, you’ll never get the call to interview.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    Good point Vicki. I can understand the frustration. The tips are just about making your resume findable and it’s just the very first step of the process. You don’t get past the recruiter if the resume isn’t good. None of these tips is THE  thing that will get someone a new position. You have to take them in the context of a full job search. This is just one that will help your resume pop up in searches.

    Searches are a fact of life now. Recruiters have to be well-versed in Boolean logic in order to do their jobs. It allows recruiters to view many resumes and it allows prospects to get their resumes in front of the right peopoe. So it’s all good if you know how it works and do your best to leverage it.

  15. Vin Raj says:


                     Wo0hoo! Extraordinary explanation It's easily understood for job seekers trying to build a rock on sand.


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