How to utilize keywords in your resume in 3 steps

  | Laura Slingo


In an increasingly competitive job market your resume needs to stand out from the crowd, grab attention, and get onto that short-list of candidates to land yourself an interview!

The recruitment industry is flooded with technological advancements that change the way resumes are received, stored and searched.

Most organizations use software known as applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to filter out resumes that don't match their job description or needs – and most of the time this is all powered by keyword searches.

The words and phrases you use on your resume could determine whether a hiring manager even sees your resume.

To help you figure out where to start when it comes to resume keywords we’ve put together this handy three-step guide.

1. Analyze the ad for relevant keywords

Think about it, when you’re trawling the web for the right job vacancy, you’re looking for specific words that describe the job you want.

Well it works the same way in reverse. A job posting has been written to include certain keywords which are used to attract the right candidates.

It’s no secret that the keywords in the job ad will be the ones used to find the relevant resumes so read the description closely and find a natural way to work that language into your resume.

A word of warning – don’t force in keywords that simply don’t make any sense! Incorporate keywords naturally in your resume so they read well. Good places for keywords and phrases are your objective statement, skills section and work experience. You can also use them as headings.

2. Use powerful action words

It’s critical that you closely consider the words you use in your resume and how you describe your skills.

Action words enable you to create more dynamic descriptions of your achievements at work, helping you stand out from the crowd. Begin statements in your resume with an action word rather than using “I” or “we”.

Using vague language or long phrases can use up valuable space on your resume. You need to include achievements in your resume that will illustrate your potential value to an organization.

Here are some great action words for your resume:

  • Implemented
  • Developed
  • Created
  • Handled
  • Solved
  • Coordinated
  • Directed
  • Adapted
  • Supported
  • Distributed
  • Transformed
  • Controlled

Make sure you avoid bland phrases such as “excellent communication skills,” instead prove it!

Provide evidence to support your claims. For example:

  • Implemented a new content marketing strategy that increased blog traffic by 80%
  • Adapted existing sales approaches which increased revenue by 50%
  • Directed a volunteering project managing a group of 30

Without specific examples that show your success, your skills could come across as too general and ultimately render meaningless to a hiring manager. But include some concrete numbers and percentages, and you add weight to your worth.

3. Check industry phrasing

Remember when you walked into your first job and had to ask about 15 times what that acronym, abbreviation or completely made-up word meant?

Well, now it’s time to prove your knowledge by using industry language.

Recruiters will search for resumes containing terms that have direct relevance to the role, but also to the industry. For example, if you’re in marketing recruiters may reference SEM, SEO or PPC, or if you’re in development you may reference TDD, JS or HTML.

Use this “jargon” in your resume to prove your fit for the industry and the role – but only if you know its meaning!

Author's Bio: Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the fastest-growing job board in the U.S., Resume-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages

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