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How to Spruce Up Your Resume With These Resume Keywords

resume keywords


How to Spruce Up Your Resume With These Resume Keywords

Let’s talk about resume keywords. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!

Hunting for a job is time-consuming and often frustrating. In many cases, you spend hours putting together a top-tier resume, only to never get a callback or interview offer. 

The problem might not be with your qualifications or even your resume itself. It might be just that you are frequently filtered out by software called applicant tracking systems (ATSs).

Fortunately, you can get past these blockades and spruce up your resume with a few strategic keywords. Let’s take a look at which resume keywords you should leverage to make your resume more attractive and effective than ever.

Why Focus on Resume Keywords, Anyway?

Simply put, most HR departments these days utilize automated and AI-enhanced software to filter out job candidates before they take a look at any real resumes.

Plenty of jobs in many industries are inundated with qualified candidates. HR departments have no shortage of people they can hire for open positions. Rather than looking at each resume that hits their digital desks, HR staff often use ATS tools to screen candidates automatically.

While those tools can be very effective, they are always limited by their computerized natures. Any given ATS can only scan a resume for specific keywords to determine whether it will be a good fit for the company.

For example, say you want to apply for a supervisory position at a sales firm. When you submit your resume, that sales firm’s HR department might use an ATS tool to look for keywords:

  • Sales experience
  • Charismatic
  • Experienced
  • Profits
  • And so on

If your resume doesn’t have enough of those resume keywords, it could automatically be bumped to the bottom of the resume pile or discarded entirely. This isn’t nefarious or malicious; it’s just an automated process that helps HR departments whittle the resumes they have to look through down to a manageable number.

resume keywords tips

ATS tools and other software programs also look at other factors when determining whether to forward a resume to an HR representative, such as whether the resume is in a specific format, whether it includes contact information, etc. But for many job seekers, resume denials are due to lacking specific keywords.

If you include perfectly chosen keywords in your resume, it will be much more likely to pass ATS checks and reach human representatives. Those representatives can then really look over the resume you spent tons of time crafting and curating.

What Keywords Should You Use?

Given the importance of including the right keywords in your resume, you need to know the specific keywords to use when applying for a new job. In truth, the exact keyword list you should implement depends on your job position and the particular requirements of the opening.

Look at the Job Listing

To start figuring out what keywords you should use in your resume, look at the job listing to which you are applying. Odds are the job listing itself will have lots of the important keywords you should include on your resume.

For example, say that you find a job description that includes information like this:

  • Must have experience with MS Office
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree
  • Must have experience with CRM software like Hubspot
  • Must have experience with back-end operations with Amazon and online marketplaces
  • Must have experience with small team management

From that job description and list of duties, you can derive several important keywords you should include on your resume. Resume keywords like “management experience,” “MS Office experience,” and so on both immediately check the boxes the recruiter is looking for and act as green flags for any automated software they may use.

resume keywords insights

If possible, tweak or tailor your resume to use the keywords exactly as they are displayed in the job description or listing. Say that you want to include the fact that you have CRM software experience. Write a sentence like, “I have experience with CRM software like Hubspot.” It can feel repetitive, but it does wonders for helping your resume past the initial gates and getting you to sit down for an interview.

Consider Resume Keywords Related to the Position

Your next step should be to consider any important keywords that are logically related to the open position.

For example, say that you want to apply for a finance position. In addition to the keywords you notice in the job description specifically, you might want to use keywords in your resume bullet points such as:

  • Financial management
  • Credit
  • Loan management
  • Portfolio
  • Turnaround
  • FILO
  • Profit and loss

All of these keywords are essential terms used frequently in the financial industry.

Regardless of the position to which you are applying, they should look positive to an AI program, as well as look positive to a human reviewer once they receive your resume.

resume keywords job

Take this advice and apply it to any industry or job you want to apply to. For instance, if you are applying for a management job, include resume keywords like regulations, production, schedule, procedure, etc. If you want to apply to a human resources position, consider adding words like staffing, training, diversity, contract negotiation, and more.

Good Action-Oriented Keywords for Most Resumes

Some of the best keywords for your resume might not relate to a specific industry at all. These “action” keywords make your resume appear to be a little more dynamic and engaging regardless of industry. Some action keywords include:

  • Implemented
  • Overhauled
  • Facilitated
  • Integrated
  • Streamlined
  • Negotiated
  • Communicated
  • Managed
  • Optimized

What ties all of these resume keywords together? Your actions. When you use any of these words in a sentence, it makes you seem like a driven, active individual.

For instance, you might say something like, “I successfully communicated with chief clients and facilitated the overhaul of our sales processes.” That’s an impressive sentence, no matter how you slice it!

If your resume feels flat or has gaps, consider sprinkling in some of these action keywords throughout. Not only will this help you pass AI software checks, but it will also help you look at your work more actively, helping you present yourself in the best possible light.

Pay Attention to Which Resumes—and Keywords—Get Responses

As your job hunt continues, you might have more or less success as you apply for new positions. If your first few resumes don’t get any bites, but the next few resumes net you interviews or callbacks, take a look at those resumes and see what they have in common.

By determining which resumes and keywords receive the most responses, you can use those successful keywords in your next batch of resumes. This is only appropriate if your job hunt is taking a long time, but it could help you reach that final step and finally get an interview with a great company.

The Final Word on Resume Keywords

As you can see, the right keywords can make your resume stand out from the competition and help you get past automated HR filters and AI platforms to real human beings. Remember to leverage important resume keywords related to your industry, and you’ll be sure to get more callbacks and interviews than before.

Nahla Davies
Nahla Davies
Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer who covers employment trends. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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