Resume keywords are imperative to helping you get your resume noticed by employers. By including keywords in your resume and cover letter, you’ll increase your chances of landing a job interview.

Keywords are words or short phrases that relate to particular requirements for a job. They are the skills, abilities, credentials, and qualities that a hiring manager looks for in a candidate.

When a hiring manager looks through a pile of resumes, he or she scans each resume to find these keywords. Many companies even use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS), also known as talent management systems, to screen candidates for job openings.

One way an ATS works is to eliminate resumes that are missing certain keywords. If the software or the hiring manager does not detect any of the keywords in your resume or cover letter, your application might get thrown out. By embedding keywords in your resume or cover letter, you will demonstrate, at a glance, that you fit the requirements of the position.

These five tips will get you ready to revamp your resume, so you’ll have a much better chance of getting found for the right job.

  • Use the Job Ad as Your Guide

  • The first place to find keywords to use in your resume is the job ad. If they say they’re looking for an experienced professional who can manage a sales pipeline, use that phrase “manage a sales pipeline” (assuming you have done that before!). Use words and phrases directly from the job description to tailor your resume to a specific job.

  • Be as Specific as You Can Be

  • Recruiters need to know exactly what you’ve done, so words like “marketing” and “accounting” are too broad. Get specific because recruiters will search using specific terms, not always general ones. They need to know who you are and what you can offer. Maybe try keywords like “head of market research,” “digital media recruiter,” or “accounts receivable.”

  • Sprinkle Keywords Throughout

  • Keywords should be used throughout your resume, and not just in the skills section. If you do include a keyword in your skills section, make sure that skill shows up elsewhere. Using a keyword only once can be a red flag. Add them to your current and target job titles, location, summary and experience, plus any professional licenses you may have.

  • Don’t Go Overboard

  • At the same time, don’t be an over-achiever trying to cram as many keywords as possible into your resume. Remember, once your resume gets past the computer, a human will eventually be grading it.

  • Check Your Spelling

  • Those applicant tracking systems are pretty smart—but they can’t find misspelled words, so make sure to check your spelling extra-carefully before hitting “submit.”

Your resume keywords should include specific job requirements, including your skills, competencies, relevant credentials, and previous positions and employers. Keywords should be words that, at a glance, will show the hiring manager that you are a good fit for the job.

Example of Specific Keywords per Industry for Your Resume
• Marketing Manager keyword examples:
Social Media, Email Marketing, Hubspot, Digital Marketing, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Storytelling, Verbal and Written Communication.

• Software Developer keyword examples:
Design Patterns, Distributed Systems, Databases, SQL, NoSQL, Testing, Service Oriented Architecture, Machine Learning, SCRUM, UML, Programming Languages: Java, Scala, JavaScript, Golang, Elixir

• Multimedia Designer keywords examples:
Visual Ideation, Typography, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, InDesign, Print Design, Web Design, HTML & CSS, Color Theory.

• Hotel Manager keyword examples:
Interpersonal Skills, Leadership, Customer-Service, Organization, Problem-Solving, Verbal and Written Communication.

• Electrical Engineer keyword examples:
Circuit Design, Physics, Critical Thinking, Instrumentation and Electrical Measurements, Active Learning.

• Nurse keyword examples:
Emotional Intelligence, Stamina, Critical Thinking, Adaptability, Flexibility, Effective Communication, Stress Management.

• Achieved, Advised, Acted, Accomplished, Adapted, Analyzed.
• Built, Brainstormed, Boosted.
• Communicated, Coordinated, Contributed, Created.
• Developed, Discovered, Documented, Doubled, Directed, Distributed.
• Formed, Focused, Financed, Formulated.
• Guided, Generated, Granted, Gathered.
• Hired, Helped.
• Improved, Innovated, Inspected, Invented, Illustrated, Interviewed, Installed.
• Judged, Joined.
• Lectured, Led, Located.
• Managed, Motivated, Mastered, Minimized, Maximized, Moved.
• Negotiated, Navigated, Noticed.
• Observed, Oversaw, Organized.
• Participated, Placed, Planned, Passed, Processed, Provided, Proposed, Prioritized.
• Recovered, Recorded, Reduced, Replaced, Reviewed, Researched, Received, Rewarded, Redesigned.
• Saved, Stabilized, Supplied, Standardized, Selected, Sent, Sold, Signed, Strategized.
• Transformed, Tested, Targeted, Trained.
• Updated, Utilized, Upgraded.
• Verified, Validated, Visualized.
• Won, Worked, Wrote.

Picking keywords can be tricky (even with the tips above), so lean on technology to double-check that you chose the right ones. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that if you play your cards right, your resume will end up in human hands. And those human hands do not speak in keywords, S make sure that your resume has all the right keywords, but is also HIGHLY readable.

(written by: Whitney)

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