By Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, FAAN
If you’ve ever posted you resume online, you were probably asked to fill out a section entitled “keywords.” Knowing the right keywords to use can make the difference in your resume being identified for further scrutiny or getting passed over in a sea of data. (See How To Use The Internet In Your Job Search.)
Keywords are the words and phrases a prospective employer might use to search an online resume databank in order to identify candidates that possess certain credentials, skills, and attributes. Many employers and recruiters use a technology called optical character recognition (OCR). This special software scans documents much as an assistant instructed to look for certain words and phrases would. That means, yes, a machine might be the first “person” to read your credentials.
What words should I use?
When choosing keywords, remember to keep it simple. Quality versus quantity counts here. Think of words or phrases that a prospective employer might search for. Read classified ads and notice the words that are commonly listed for the type of position you’re seeking.
Some skills keywords would be: computer skills, management, bilingual/Spanish, multitasking, public speaking, teaching, outside sales, verbal/written communication skills, organizational skills, leadership, training, interpersonal skills, and counseling.
Credentials/experience keywords might include: RN, BSN, nurse practitioner, critical care, I.V. certified, CPR certified, pediatrics, quality improvement, ventilator management, chemotherapy administration, oncology, trauma, clinical research, outside sales, case management, substance abuse, phlebotomy, community outreach, managed care or project management.
Keywords for other important traits include: flexible, willing to travel, detail-oriented, adaptable, high energy, self-starter, team player, dynamic, highly motivated, creative, or independent.
Use short and common phraseology like “home infusion therapy” rather than “intravenous therapy in a patient’s home.” While you would normally steer away from industry jargon and abbreviations in a paper resume, both are useful and necessary for an online resume. Be sure to use only common, universally recognized abbreviations like NICU, ACLS, or AIDS as well as industry-specific abbreviations like OSHA and CQI.
Choosing the right keywords and phrases are key to your success with online job hunting.
For more information about resumes and CVs check out: The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses – Practical Strategies for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career
Reprinted with permission from Nurses.com (www.nurses.com).
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