One of the big mysteries that confounds job hunters is that they see a great job posting, apply to it, and then… nothing. Why isn’t the phone ringing? It’s often that automated systems are “reading” your executive resume–and they don’t like what they see.

Under siege, employers are trying to filter out unqualified applicants for executive roles as hard as they’re trying to get IN. If you’re not receiving a response from your resume, there are a number of ways you can look at changing it, and this should start with keyword content.

Keywords are simply terms for skills, certifications, and other qualifications that are required for each job. Automated systems make looking for keywords on resumes much easier, and these applications are designed to count the number of times that crucial terms appear in each document.

To ensure that your resume gets read by your desired audience (meaning that picky scanning system!), alter the keyword count using these strategies:

1 – Take out irrelevant terms.

If you possess skills that are transferable to more than one career, consider creating more than one resume version, and then take OUT the keywords that don’t apply to that field.

Be aware that including extraneous information can confuse the HUMAN reader too. Like any other marketing document, your resume gives the reader an impression of what you offer… and when it’s filled with phrases that relate to a different type of job, employers often react by taking a pass.

Executives can often fall into the trap of retaining key words for their resumes that relate more to lower-level jobs. A great example is the CIO who should leave the tech industry jargon, such as programming skills, off the resume for a leadership role.

One way to gauge whether to take out certain words is to look carefully at the jobs to which you are applying. If your resume contains a large number of skills that are NOT in these descriptions, then it’s time to remove them.

2 – Add new keyword content that fits your executive skills and goals.

Another reason to take a second look at your desired jobs is to see the type of keywords you SHOULD be using.

Many sales leaders, for example, don’t give a second thought to mentioning that their skills include prospecting, relationship management, or business development. Yet, the positions they apply to may contain these terms, and the scanner can reject their resumes if it doesn’t find a match.

A good rule of thumb is to make a composite list of terms commonly appearing in leadership roles you are targeting, and then ensure that your resume contains a representative cross-section of the keywords that apply to your background.

3 – Keep in mind that keywords can also communicate the breadth of your skills.

Often, scanning systems will account for synonyms, and may ferret out your resume into a different sub-section reserved for more advanced professionals.

For example, a new account executive might put “relationship management” on a resume, but a more experienced sales representative could add “revenue improvement” and “profit growth.”

By the same token, an operations manager may add tactical skills such as “production capacity,” while a COO can sharpen the focus to add “strategic production planning.”

The bottom line? It’s important to stand out by backing your resume achievements up with a host of skills that employers seek-meaning keywords. This is a crucial step for any executive who wants to increase results and distinguish themselves from lesser-qualified competitors.

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