Are You Using Keywords Effectively?

ID-100153291How much thought do you give to the keywords in your resume?  The reality is that submitting an application without keywords is about as effective as throwing a stack of resumes off of a tall building and hoping that an employer will find one.  Since employers are increasingly using automated applicant tracking systems, if your resume doesn’t have the right keywords, it is essentially invisible to employers.  Here are some tips that will help you use keywords in way that brings your resume to the top of the pile:

Use the job requirements.  The trick with keywords is to focus on the technical requirements of the position.  Be as specific as possible about your skills, competencies, software, previous employers, and credentials.  A good approach is to scan a variety of job advertisements and to pull out the terms that appear in a lot of the posts.  Try to think like an employer; which terms would you use to search for candidates?

Customize it for each position.  Since every job is unique, you should be using keywords that are specific to each individual position.  Even jobs with similar requirements could be using very different keywords.  With automated applicant tracking systems, your keywords need to be an exact match with the search terms that the employer is using.  You can often get an idea of the language that the employer is using by looking at the job advertisement and the employer’s website.  

Weave the skills into your resume.  While some job seekers will throw in a list of keywords without context, it is probably not the best approach.  Instead, integrate the keywords into your work experience and training.  You can also add a summary of skills near the top of your resume.  While you want your resume to be scannable, it is a human being who will ultimately make the decision to hire you.   

Use keywords on your social media profiles.  Don’t forget to integrate keywords into your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles.  Today’s job seeker needs to use every opportunity to network and these tools are an excellent way to get connected with recruiters.  You will know that you have used keywords effectively when the jobs start coming to you!

To be successful in today’s job market, you need to be strategic.  It’s not enough to work hard; you need to educate yourself on how employers find candidates and adjust your strategy accordingly.  Job seekers who are adaptable and who consider the employers’ perspective are the ones that will get hired first.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of patpitchaya at

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