Using Keywords in Your Resume

Well-chosen keywords can turn your resume into a powerful marketing tool.

You have responded to many online job ads and uploaded your resume to a number of recruitment web sites, but no one is calling to invite you for an interview. One reason might be a lack of resume keywords.

Keywords are specific words or phrases used to describe an applicant’s skills or experience. They are often specific buzz words that are used in a particular industry. Most companies use applicant-tracking software, which scans resumes for keywords relating to experience, job titles, skills, training, and degrees. Resumes WILL NOT show up in a search unless they contain the exact words or phrases that the employer is searching for. Most Fortune 1000 companies and many smaller companies now use these technologies.

How to Use Resume Keywords

* Identify resume keywords. You can find buzz words that appear in job postings from newspapers, job boards, trade publications and employment ads with similar job description. Visit the web sites of professional associations in your field to look for current keywords. Talk to recruiters and human resources professionals. They are looking for resumes that match the key words contained in the job description and most likely the person who posted the job online is the one reviewing resumes for the position.

* Add your keywords to the resume. Use your keywords and phrases throughout your resume to stand out in a database search for someone with your experience, skills, background, certifications, location and accomplishments. Focus on such areas as: skills, responsibilities, achievements, degrees, certifications, job-specific phrases, products and services. List your key words near the top so they would be quickly reviewed when looking for a match. Recruiters need to see those key words in first few seconds or you’ll be eliminated from consideration.

* Use keywords in your cover letters too. Some employers include them in resume databases.

* Keep updating your resume on a regular basis with new keywords. Looking at employment ads will help you get new ideas on what keywords you can add to get your resume even more attention.

Resume Key Words To Avoid:

* The words like supported, contributed, and assisted are not very effective. They say that you helped, but do not say how. If you decided to use them follow these words with a more complete description of your role.

* Successfully is another key word you should avoid in your resume. It is better to give a specific example of your accomplishments that prove your success at your past jobs.

* Responsible for is another unnecessary phrase. It will look much better if you list your accomplishments rather than enumerate your responsibilities.

Here are a few popular keywords:

* Achievement keywords: achieved, completed, increased, improved, accomplished, performed, expanded;

* Problem solving keywords: reduced, corrected, evaluated, utilized, simplified, analyzed, investigated;

* Leadership keywords: developed, managed, inspired, organized, guided, directed, revitalized;

* Initiative keywords: designed, launched, created, established, initiated, started, formulated;

* Some popular phrases: oral and written communications, strategic planning, project management, performance and productivity improvement, business development, product positioning, team-building.

Resume keywords can take an average resume and turn it into a power-packed marketing piece for you.
Source: Based on an article by Tatiana Varenik,