Why Keywords Are So Important For Successful Resume


Today, the majority of mid-sized and big companies use applicant tracking systems, or ATS. What does it mean for an applicant? Before your resume gets in the hands of the hiring manager, it has to pass an automated selection which will scan your resume to determine whether you possess the needed qualifications for the position.

In other words, ATS are necessary to weed out the applicants which do not match at an early stage to save the hiring manager’s time. According to Forbes, only 15-20% of applicants are qualified for the job they’re applying to. So, this kind of optimization saves a great deal of a hiring person’s time. The only problem for you as an applicant is that even if you’re highly qualified and experienced but your resume doesn’t have the needed keywords, it won’t even get read by a human!

Key reasons to enrich your resume with keywords:

  • To pass the ATS selection – as was mentioned above, keyword-free resumes are tossed out, so, without keywords your application might not be even considered.
  • To get the higher ranking and more chances for interview – usually, the ATS sorts the applicants based on how well the resumes match the job description. And, if you take your time to customize your resume for a particular job opening, your resume is likely to be considered in the first place.
  • To focus on the most important information – when rewriting your resume with the use of keywords, you’ll likely just cut the career facts that do not match, thus making your resume shorter and more focused.

What are keywords?

Depending on the industry and the level of job, keywords may be:

  • Software, language and technology proficiencies
  • Skills and concepts which imply on a particular profession and industry
  • Anticipated qualifications advertised in a job opening
  • Job titles held and previous employers
  • Certifications and relevant credentials
  • University name and degree
  • Professional affiliations
  • Specific industry jargon

Where to find keywords that should be used?

  • Get the keywords from the job advertisement. Look at the requirements from the successful candidate and watch the language and phrases used. These will be the keywords that should be included on your resume.
  • Browse the web for keywords listings. For instance, New York State Department of Labor has an impressive list of keywords for nearly any industry, so you can use these phrases as well.
  • Ask the HR specialists in your network. The first-hand advice will be much more valuable than any general tips on the Internet. So, if you know the HR specialists in your field, ask them about the effective keywords you can use.

How to get use of keywords efficiently

  • Add keywords throughout the resume. Write out your qualifications that match the job description and then list all the qualifications you need using the same words which are used in job posting. Your task is not only to prove that you have what it takes to obtain the position but also to use the same language. By speaking on the same language with the hiring manager who created the job posting, you not only will pass the ATS, but also will better connect with him on a personal level. Be sure to consider this advice when updating your resume for a job search.
  • Put the “Skills” or “Core competencies” section at the top of your resume, right after the summary. This simple section consisting of bulleted list of skills serves two major goals. Firstly, it improves the way your resume looks and attracts the recruiter’s attention to the key skills and areas of expertise you possess. And, secondly, this section is best for giving your skills as keywords.
  • Test your resume keywords online. There are services like JobScan which allow you to check how well your resume matches the specific job opening. All you have to do is to copy and paste the text of your resume and the job posting and the software will analyze and even provide recommendation how to achieve the better match.
  • Add more keywords in your summary. It’s important to enrich your professional summary with necessary keywords is well. Summary is the best place to put keywords connected with your personality traits and work attitude. Adding more keywords at the top of the resume makes it more ATS-friendly as well. If you don’t have a summary, it’s one of the biggest resume mistakes these days – correct it by adding 3-5 lines at the top of your resume.
  • Keep the language simple. Although this advice isn’t directly connected with the ATS selection, this is what you should definitely keep in mind. Make your resume easy to read for anyone, especially for those who might me not familiar with the nature of your job. Chances are that the hiring manager won’t be the first person to read your resume, so, by keeping the language simple, you make the resume understandable for any junior assistants and outside recruiters who may see it first.

The formatting challenge

In addition to enriching your resume with keywords, it’s also important to incorporate the formatting that will be easy to recognize by an ATS. The key rule to successful formatting is simplicity.

  • Avoid the excessive use of charts, tables and graphs (or remove them at all).
  • Change the fancy lists and columns to the simple bulleted lists.

These two changes ensure that your formatting won’t be destroyed by an ATS and text and figures won’t turn into a mess that’s impossible to read by a real person.

Adding keywords to the text of your resume is a necessity these days, as the only way to get your application considered lays through the ATS software. And simple replacing the words from your resume with those written in a job posting on the internet can make the difference to your job search process.

It’s time to get started!

Enriching your resume with keywords is an essential part of a resume writing process. So, if you got all the necessary keywords at hand and you feel you’re a good match for the job, it’s time to get down to making your resume perfect.

Do you have any issues with resume keywording? Then, you can contact our specialists and get your resume improved in all necessary aspects to boost your confidence in a job search process.

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