The keyword is …


I can’t count the number of times I’ve tweaked my resume in the last month, but it’s more than I have in the previous 20 years.

Turns out that was mistake, according to the career counselors at the Professional Outplacement Assistance Center, a division of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

I should have revisited my resume every month or so while employed, and added recent achievements or job skills given that one’s duties evolve over time. Many of us simply forget what we’ve accomplished during our careers, and the time to remember them is not when we are feeling the everyday stress of unemployment.

That’s just one nugget I took away from the center’s two-day JumpStart 2.0 program I attended last week along with some 75 other professionals who have more initials after their name than a bowl of alphabet soup.

At least I’m not alone. Not in regards to the initials, mind you. All I could put after my name is B.S., and something tells me that would be a mistake even if I meant “bachelor’s of science degree.”

I’m not alone in terms of well qualified people who are looking for work and coming up empty in today’s unforgiving job market.

But all is not lost. I took away lots of other nuggets from the JumpStart program that should help as I search for my next job.

Some are no-brainers: Wear a suit to the interview no matter what. Turns out some people don’t, even those who consider themselves professional. One counselor even told the story of an applicant who showed up for an interview in sweats because he knew it was scheduled on that company’s casual-dress day.

Others are downright funny: Don’t use the Latin phrase for “graduated with honors” because some spam filters interpret it as porn, and don’t let it through. Yikes.

But the best by far is a website called (Ignore the fact that the site says “beta.” It’s said that for years, the counselor said.) allows a user to copy and paste their resume, or job announcement, into a field to determine the key words that applicant-tracking software would likely find. The bigger the word, the more times it appears.

Lots of companies these days use such software to weed through resumes, and if your resume doesn’t make it through that software, human eyes will never see it no matter how qualified you are.

The trick is to copy and paste the job announcement into the field, decide how many words you want it to visualize (the career counselors recommended 100), and hit visualize. Then do the same with your resume, and if the 10 biggest words don’t match, tweak your resume.

It won’t guarantee that your resume will make it beyond the electronic screen, but it should increase your odds.

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One Response to The keyword is …

  1. Carol Myers says:

    I know you will find the right job – or it will find you! I imagine the kids are having a ball with you around more. Enjoy fatherhood, friend. You and yours are in our prayers.

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