Hired Learning: The Value of Using Word Clouds in Your Job Search

by Julius Alberici and Curlin Beck
A word cloud is a visual depiction of the frequency that words are used in a document. The words used most often are shown in larger type and sometimes in more prominent colors. Although they were not originally developed for use in job searches, word clouds can be a very useful tool to use in your job search. How does this work?
First, you want to make certain that your resume emphasizes the things that you believe are important. Seeing the frequency with which you use key words shows which skills, experience, and accomplishments are emphasized and helps you to understand how prospective employer might view your resume. In addition, many large corporations have resumes scanned by computers. We do not know the algorithms used by these resume-scanning applications, one should assume that among the factors the computer is looking for are the key words and the emphasis that you place on the skills and experience represented by these key words.
The second way that word clouds can be used in the job search process is to analyze the job description and job requirements posted for jobs that you are interested in applying for. Using a word cloud will let you see what key words the employer is using and emphasizing. Once you have created a word cloud from the job description, compare it with the word cloud of your resume. If the key words emphasized by the job description and the key words in your resume are in sync, then you have a better chance of having your resume get past the computer screening and initial screenings by company personnel. If the key words are not in sync, then take another look at your resume. Do not insert words that are not applicable to your skills and experience just to improve the match with the job description, as this will get you in trouble during any subsequent interview and could hurt you. However, where it is appropriate, do make modifications to your resume to synchronize better with the job description.
The word cloud application taught by PSGCNJ in the initial 5-day training program is called Wordle. This is an Internet-based application that can easily be found at http://www.wordle.net/. When you get to this Web site, you will see a topic called “Create your own.” Click on this link, and you can then paste in any text that you want. You can paste in your resume or any job description that you can copy. From this text, a word cloud will be generated and you can visually analyze the results.
You may have problems getting Wordle to work on your PC. This is probably caused by security settings within your Internet browser like Internet Explorer or possibly by the firewall settings of the security software you are running on your PC. If you do not want to lower your security settings to get Wordle to work, there are alternatives. Tagcrowd (http://tagcrowd.com/ ) is one possibility; it gives you the option of saving the word cloud you create as a .pdf file. There is also a useful option at the bottom of the Tagcrowd page that allows you to embed the word count in your word cloud. Another option appears to be from Stanford University and is called Wordsift (http://www.wordsift.com/ ). Though Wordsift displays a word cloud on your PC, it does not appear to provide a way to print the results. However, if you do not need to print the word cloud, Wordsift provides another alternative.
DISCLAIMER: These Web sites were accessed on a computer with Norton AntiVirus software running, and the Web sites were searched using Norton Safe Search, which indicated that as of the time of the search there were no computer threats on the WordTagcrowd, or Wordsift Web sites. However, there is no guarantee that these sites are safe or will remain safe, and users take full responsibility for using the tools discussed this article.

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