Learn using keywords in your resume

Keywords are specific words or phrases used to describe an applicant’s skills or experience. They are often specific buzzwords that are used in a particular industry. For example, someone looking for a job in a writing field might use specific words like “copywriter” or “business writer.” A person looking for a management position might use words like “change management,” or “organizational leadership.”

Learn using keywords in your resume

Why Should Applicants Use Keywords In a Resume?

A resume is a marketing tool and is used to convince the recruiter or hiring manager that the applicant is a good bet and should be brought in for an interview. Considering that many recruiters spend 10 seconds or less reviewing resumes, that marketing message has to be powerful and quick. Keywords put an applicant’s skills into focus and help the recruiter quickly determine that the skills on a resume match those needed in the available job.

How Recruiters Use Keywords

Whether reviewing resumes manually or using applicant tracking software, employers use keywords as a way of weeding through resumes. A nursing home administrator hiring for a nurse might look for “registered nurse,” “RN,” “managed care,” or “elderly care.” By using these specific keywords, the results will be much more closely tailored to the administrator’s needs.

Recruiters sometimes do keyword searches on business networking sites such as, to find candidates who may not even be looking for a job but might still listen if the right opportunity came along.

Determining the Right Keywords To Use

Once you’ve decided to integrate keywords in the resume, the next question is: how to decide which keywords to use?

Look at job postings that interest you to see what common phrases are used, then use applicable ones in your resume.
Research industry trends and professional association websites to determine which keywords are consistently used.
Some popular keywords include strategic planning, performance and productivity improvement, team building, problem-solving and decision-making. Be sure to use words that make sense for your industry and job search.

Placing Keywords In Your Resume

keywords in your resume

After developing a list of 10 to 15 strong, descriptive and applicable keywords, the next step is to place them in the resume in a way that makes sense. In her article “Keywords that Work,” contributing editor Wendy S. Enelow suggests putting keywords in these places:

At the beginning of the resume, in the career summary section. This puts top skills and experience where it will get noticed first.
In the job description, to highlight experience and abilities.
In a separate area, such as a professional qualifications section that punctuates your greatest strengths.
By developing a strong list of keywords, you will have the foundation to develop a marketing message. By using these keywords consistently in the resume, cover letters, online profiles and interviews, you will get your message across successfully.

Keywords are Crucial for Resumes, Cover Letters

The coming season is the perfect time to set new year goals. Revamp those crucial business documents to take advantage of keyword search engines for submitted online resumes and cover letters. This will increase the chances for a match to the advertised position.

Why Bother With Keywords

Online applications are increasing in demand. Often the company demands the job seeker apply only via a dedicated link which forces uploading of resume and cover letter, and/or to fill in sections for employment. Or the request is to send the resume and cover letter via email. Both methods imply electronic submission, which means the file can be quickly scanned by a computer which will search for coded keywords as set by the company looking to fill the particular position. If the cover letter has the keywords, but not the resume, then it’s quite possible the application will be disregarded by the software program as a good match. Using keywords also reinforces a perfect match between applicant and potential job for those using human eyes to find the right candidate.

Use Keywords for All Business Documentation Pertaining to Employment

This does mean though, that specific attention to both the advertised position as well as the resume and cover letter must be accomplished, to ensure a good fit and match. Having keywords in one business document but not the other will diminish the effectiveness. Remember, the computer program is set to search for specific phrases in a group of documents.

For example, if the advertised position requires presentation skills, then this phrase should be used when appropriate. But it is not enough to just use the phrase.

Consider Alternatives to the Selected Phrase


Try to also use alternative wording to the selected phrase as well as the phrase itself. As an example, presentation skills also encompass lectures, seminars, and staging. If these alternatives are appropriate, then use these phrases to support your keyword use.

It’s important to pick out at least a few keywords and alternate phrasing from the advertised position to fit into the crucial business documents. Decide based on proven experience which keywords fit best between the potential job and the resume and cover letter one is currently updating.

Bottom Line

The use of keywords to match business documents is now crucial. Ensure alternate phrasing is also used as well as the keywords. This will increase the chances of a good match between the advertised position and submitted resume and cover letter when scanned by a computer software program or human eyes.

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