Career Cheat Code #1: Defeat the Scanners to Unlock the Boss Level

Here’s a post from Ellen on resume writing:


Before your resume makes it to the desk of your future boss, it has to defeat the dreaded gauntlet of “scanners.” Yes, scanners. First, the robots. Then, the poor sap in HR (the intern). Then, the HR manager in charge of recruiting. And finally, the boss. So, how do you conquer the beast?

Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. Yes, there are magic words that give you the power to defeat the scanners and make it to the next level.

When you submit your resume to a large firm or company, it is first “scanned” by resume scanning software (aka, Applicant Tracking Systems or Automated Resume Screeners), which score resumes on relevancy to keywords and experience. The resumes with the highest scores are then reviewed by a series of humans. The more relevant keywords your resume contains, the better your chances of making it through to the boss.

Throwing keywords in willy-nilly, however, does not help. It is important to tailor your resume to the position you are applying for; use the terms they use. For example, if you are applying for a job as a “staff accountant,” you should use the term, “staff accountant” on your resume; if the position involves “income tax planning,” you need to reference “income tax planning” on your resume. Also be sure to address ALL of the requirements of the position; if they ask for “years of experience,” include it; if they want to know what “software” you are familiar with, list it.

What are the relevant keywords? There is no specific list of words that are relevant to all accounting positions. The best way to find them is to look at the terms used in similar postings. If you review several job listings for “staff accountant,” you will start to notice which terms are used over and over – those are the magic words.


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