We've all heard that more and more, computers are pre-screening applications for specific key words before a resume ever gets seen by a human. If you don't have the magic character string, you don't have a job. I've worried a lot about this, but wasn't really sure what to do about it. A colleague recently mentioned that to a computer "PhD" and "Ph.D." and "Ph-D" are unrelated. The surest way to hit the keywords is to use the form put in the ad.
And this got me thinking, I never know what the key words will be. If the ad contains the search terms, maybe my application should contain the ad? This morning, I am taking a new approach to resume writing. I find a job I think I am a good fit for, I copy the text of the ad, and trim that to meet my specific needs. "Builds professional relationships" becomes "Builds professional relationships as part of a large, interdisciplinary team." I'm not gonna lie, it kinda feels like plagiarism, but I am been assured that applicant creativity doesn't usually get picked out of pre-screening.
I'll let you know if it works, but here are a couple up-sides I noticed already:
1) It's impossible to apply for jobs I'm not pretty much a great candidate for
2) It's a way faster way to tailor my resume.
I've already applied to two associate positions this morning, so we might get a chance to see how this experiments pans out in the short run.
Side note: the consensus was that the cover-letter isn't really essential for key word searching, and that in many cases it isn't read. I always include a nice, but short one, figuring it doesn't get screened, but someday I'll be sitting with someone in an interview situation and they might read it before I walk in the room. This might be a waste of time.