February 19, 2010

The art of analyzing job ads for specific key words

Recently, I received the following question from a reader regarding the recent City of Toronto Receptionist position that I had advertised under my Summer Job Spotlight series:

I saw the summer job ad for a receptionist job with the City of Toronto. How should I do my resume? Like are there key words that you can give me?

Since many companies and organizations now conduct their recruiting online, it is incredibly important to understand how this changes recruitment processes and strategies. 15 years ago, a real person would review resumes - now, it's likely to be one of the range of computer programs that offer recruitment management tools, including the ever-popular Taleo system and the City of Toronto's Resumix system.

As such, being able to analyze a job ad for specific key words and phrases has become a must-have skill for any job seeker, regardless of age and/or experience level.

Now, there's no real set formula as to how you should analyze a job ad. It's a science that's both industry and job specific.

However, to demonstrate how you could analyze a job ad for specific key words, I'll use a recent job ad featured on the City of Toronto's summer job board. I'll walk you through the key words and phrases in the ad that should/must appear in your resume in order for the Resumix system to move your application through the initial online screening process.

Here is the ad:

Major Responsibilities:
- To provide reception services and other administrative support in an organizational unit
- Performs receptionist duties by responding to inquiries in person, phone or e-mail
- Inputs, updates and maintains data in various software applications and prints reports
- Operates office equipment and computers utilizing a variety of software packages, applying speed and skill
- Maintains manual and computerized filing and retrieval systems for records/documents
- Coordinates meeting rooms, bookings and special requirements for meetings
- Prepares, opens and distributes mail; photocopies documents and sends facsimiles
- Responds to specific program details and/or directs to appropriate personnel
- Performs straightforward computer data entry, such as; forms, correspondence
- Enters/updates information on computer
- Prepares packages for delivery and arranges courier service.

Key Qualifications:
1. Experience performing administrative and clerical duties, with a working knowledge of standard office practices and procedures
2. Experience and proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite specifically Word, Excel and Access
3. Ability to perform routine clerical tasks with speed and accuracy
4. Excellent oral and written communication skills including good mathematical ability

- Preference may be given to those currently enrolled in post secondary education
- Successful candidates must be available to commence work as early as May 2010
Now, let's take a look at the ad more closely and pull out some of the key words. Because the job is in an administrative role, you will want to have certain industry-specific key words like 'office work', 'support', and 'administration'.

However, there are other key words that you can pick up and infer based on what appears in the ad. Here are some of the key words and phrases that I pulled out from the ad:

reception, receptionist, inquiries, data, data entry, data management, reports, computer, software, accuracy, speed, skill, filing, record management, information management, coordination, meetings, mail, mail room, distribution, answer, customer service, client service, administrative, administration, clerical, office practices, office management, Microsoft Office, Excel, Word, Access, Windows, communication skills, teamwork skills, math skills, learns quickly, work under pressure, time management

There are other words key words and phrases that you can infer; however, at a minimum, it's important to know exactly what the job ad is asking and how to highlight your skills and experience so that the online/computerized recruitment management tools will pull your application for the second review stage.

And one last thing, even though computers are smart, remember that they cannot read and interpret sentences. Instead, rely on using words and phrases - and remember that bullet points should ideally begin with a powerful action verb!

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