Cloudy with a Chance of Employment

cherylUsing Word Clouds as a Job Search Tool
For six years I have been advising people on writing their resumes to make them more marketable to employers. One of the things I usually say is to “speak their language” meaning use words the company / industry uses. Frequently we call these “buzz words” or industry specific terms. The challenge has been identifying these words, especially if you are transitioning from another field. Here is something that just may help with isolating these critical words – Word Clouds.

What are they?
Sometimes I wonder if I am the last person in America to know what a word cloud is, but in case I’m not . . . word clouds were first developed in 1995; it is a visual representation for text data, typically used to depict keywords within a selected piece of writing. The more frequently a word is used, the larger it appears. It would be so much easier to show you, so let me refer you to a page with some incredible examples of word clouds.

Why does it matter?
You may be asking so what does that mean to me as a job seeker? It looks cool, but so what? One of the prime uses of word clouds is determining the frequency of words. Imagine applying this concept to job seeking . . .

Take a job posting and enter it into a cloud generating site to identify “key words” and help make sure you “speak their language”.

Here is another thought. Let’s say you are having a challenging time identifying your key skills. Start by writing down at least five of your biggest accomplishments. Give details, what were your challenges and what did you do step by step for each accomplishment? Now put all five of these in one document and let the cloud generator do its magic. Low and behold, you will see a pattern of your skills that stand out.

Curious but not sure where to start?
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 . . .
1) Have an electronic copy of the document(s) you want to use to create a word cloud (cutting and pasting is much easier than typing everything in)
2) Go to a cloud generator site
3) Follow the site’s instructions depending on your particular goals

Word Cloud Generators
Here are four I am familiar with, though there are many more:
a. Wordle – probably the most popular one on of the four; will let you tweak a number of options
b. Tag Crowd – pretty straight forward, not so “artsy”; offers the option to have the actual number of times the word appears listed next to it
c. WordSift – similar to Tag Crowd and Wordle; will let you easily find the phrase where the word is located
d. ToCloud – still one more option

These tools can be fun as well as insightful, but remember if it is not getting you closer to landing the job it will be chalked up to a recreational activity and most of us don’t need more of those. In other words just to be punny, “Keep your feet on the ground but your head in the clouds.”

Here is this blog turned into a wordcloud

Cheryl Sandifer is a Regional Facilitator with Workforce Solutions. In that role she has been able to apply her knowledge and experience as both an educator and social worker to conduct job search skills seminars throughout the Houston-Galveston area. She has had opportunity to work with those ranging from entry-level to C-level to help them find a job, keep a job, or get a better job.



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