When applying for a job, it’s mission-critical to have a well-written resume that showcases your skills and experience. However, many job seekers are tempted to “keyword stuff” their resumes by using words and phrases that they think will get them noticed by employers or help them pass through ATS systems. While this may seem like an effective strategy, keyword stuffing can actually hurt your chances of getting the job. Let’s take a look at why it’s important to avoid keyword stuffing your resume.
How ATS Systems Work
The first step in understanding why keyword stuffing is so detrimental is to understand how Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) work.
Many companies use ATS systems when reviewing resumes because they are automated and make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to quickly identify which candidates best meet the job requirements.
ATS systems scan resumes for keywords related to the position you’re applying for, ranking each candidate based on how often those words appear in the document.
What Is Keyword Stuffing?
Keyword overload in your resume is the intentional act of filling your document with the same words and phrases over and over. One of the most flagrant ways this is done is through stuffing hidden keywords into a resume and using white text so the words are invisible to human eyes.
Keyword Stuffed Example (the blatant act of using the same words and phrases): Certified Professional Resume Writer with more than two decades of experience working with job seekers in need of a resume, leading job seekers through the resume writing process, and writing interview-winning resumes.
Hiding Keywords (repeatedly integrating a keyword into the resume and then making the text white so it will be picked up by automated systems but it invisible to human eyes).: “resume writer, professional resume writer, certified professional resume writer”.
Yes, keywords are essential when creating an interview-winning resume, but you need to use them strategically throughout your resume + cover letter + LinkedIn profile to help your resume rise to the top of the pile.
The Problem With Keyword Stuffing
Unfortunately, keyword stuffing is a ‘strategy’ used on some DIY resumes as many job seekers do not understand the risk of doing so.
While it seems logical that using more keywords would make your resume stand out from the crowd, this is actually not the case. Because ATS systems rank candidates based on how often specific words appear in their resumes, simply adding more keywords may not increase your chances of being selected. In fact, using too many keywords could actually lower your ranking in an ATS system.
The bottom line, technology continues to evolve and employers have more sophisticated applicant tracking systems (ATS) than before. Why take the chance of having your application rejected due to keyword overload?
Instead of keyword stuffing, optimize your resume by focusing on writing coherent sentences that effectively describe what makes you unique and qualified for the position you’re applying for. Be sure to include industry-specific terms whenever possible but don’t overdo it!
It is important to remember that your resume is a marketing document, and its job is to position you to win interviews by clearly conveying your value, experience, skills, and accomplishments. With some careful thought and attention-to-detail, you can ensure your resume rises above the rest without resorting to keyword stuffing.
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