Are you using resume keywords the right way?Tweet
Why are keywords so important for a resume? What purpose do they fulfill during the hiring process? These are some questions we have been asked by numerous job seekers over the past few years. If you were applying for a job about 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have had to worry so much about resume keywords. However, with the rise of the use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) by employers, keywords have become an essential component of any successful resume.
Did you know that over 75% of resumes never get read because a hiring manager doesn’t even see them? Employers use ATSs to filter, sort, and store job applications. ATSs are trained to show resumes that mention a pre-defined set of keywords higher up on the list. Imagine you were a busy hiring manager trying to find 5 candidates to shortlist for an interview. Would you scroll down the list or review the first few resumes that come up?
Let’s say your resume got past the ATS. Now, a hiring manager is going to view it. Did you know that hiring managers scan resumes for certain keywords? These keywords will differ by the industry, the type of job, and the job title. However, if your resume mentions the right keywords, you have a better chance of getting noticed.
Resume keywords are certain words or phrases that describe specific requirements for a job. These include specific abilities, skills, certifications, qualifications, and experiences that employers expect to see in an ideal candidate for the position. There are two main types of resume keywords:
- Job-related skills
- Action verbs
Job-related skills are easy for you to spot. These keywords describe specific skills you require to perform a role effectively. Some examples of job-related keywords are project management, cross-functional collaboration, goal setting, mentoring, results-driven, innovative, etc. Action verbs help you reflect on what you have accomplished in a past role on a resume. Some examples of action verbs are directed, managed, spearheaded, executed, planned, delegated, implemented, etc.
Now that you have an idea of what resume keywords are, it is time for you to incorporate them into your resume. But how do you find the right keywords? First, start scanning the job description for keywords.
The employer will mention many job-related skills they expect you to have. Highlight these words and phrases. Also, pay attention to the action verbs the employer has used to describe the scope and responsibilities of the new position. Make note of these action verbs so you can use them when writing your resume.
But how can you identify keywords if you don’t have a job description to tailor your resume to? There will be instances when you need to have a keyword-optimized resume aimed at a target job title or industry. This is where the internet can help you. Quickly hop on to a job board and search for a few job descriptions for your target job title. Review each job description carefully to spot the keywords used by each employer. Make lists of the keywords you spot on each description and finally compare the lists. The keywords that appear more than once or twice are the keywords to include in your resume.
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