Keywords are a critical component of resume visibility. Why? Well, without the right keywords and key phrases the content of your resume won’t resonate as well with both human and computer readers.
All job positions require select skills, capabilities, and competencies. To help employers better identify your offerings in alignment with their needs – keywords are required. In addition, keywords are absolutely critical for ATS (applicant tracking systems) as these systems are set up to scan and qualify resume content based on the appropriate application of certain words and phrases.
So how do you ensure that your resume has the most effective keywords in it…and where do these keywords go?
Start with the job posting:
Analyze each job posting carefully. Look for nouns that reference core skills for the role (i.e.: communication, leadership, organization) as well as phrases that describe the position requirements in more depth (i.e.: tax preparation and filing, retail customer service specialist, business operations management). Underline these words or strings of words in the posting to use later.
Consider keyword variations:
Now that you have an idea about what the employer is looking for (from the job posting), brainstorm alternative versions of these words – to ensure you cover off all key requirements and infuse your file with even greater value. Some ATS are sophisticated enough to look for a variety of words such as: manage, managed, and management…..or training, employee training, and development.
Pepper keywords throughout your file:
Keywords can, and should, be placed throughout your resume, in all sections (Headline, Summary, Skills, Experience, Education, Professional Development, etc.). Don’t limit yourself. The trick is to ensure you apply keywords authentically. Meaning, don’t lie or try to ‘keyword stuff’. These mistakes can be easily caught and harm your chances of being selected for the role. Instead, aim to organically permeate select keywords and phrases from the job posting into your resume content.
Provide keywords in appropriate context, and with evidence:
If you want to include a keyword or phrase, ensure you are actually skilled at it. For example, you can’t claim to be an expert at ‘managing IT projects on schedule and within budget’ if you aren’t.…even if this is listed in the targeted job. You need to support keywords with evidence of your actual application of skills or requirements. Yet perhaps you have managed different types of projects, and could instead truthfully state: “Directed a team of 5, managing small and medium sized marketing projects with budgets up to $500K. Delivered all projects on schedule”. The keywords “managing projects” and “on schedule” are still applied, but in a more honest form, with supporting evidence.
Finally, repeat primary keywords often:
Some ATS are programmed to rank resumes that demonstrate a certain type of keyword over a certain amount of time, or by the number of times it appears in the file. Going back to step 1, identify the keywords which are reiterated in the job posting or seem like a core position requirement. Ensure these words and phrases are repeated throughout your resume, in as many sections as possible, with appropriate variations. Again, be honest and truthful and don’t forget the evidence.
By infusing your resume with the right words and phrases you improve the chances of your resume being found, being read, and being approved to the next stage of the job search process – the interview!
Learn more resume do’s and don’ts here.
- Skye Berry-Burke is an award-winning, multi-certified resume writer who helps bring job seeker’s careers to new heights! Want to win the interview with a resume that gets you noticed? Reach out to Skye online at Skye Is The Limit Resume and Career Solutions to learn how.