Resume Keywords and How to Use Them

No matter where you are in your resume process, the key to finding the job you deserve is contingent upon using the right words in the right places so the right people know you are the right person for the job (am I right?). Let’s start with exactly how recruiters know if you are a qualified candidate.

Most recruiters and hiring managers use what is called an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. They input keywords that describe the job. Once an application or resume is submitted, the ATS looks for resumes that have those keywords in them, then scores that resume. As you may have guessed it, the recruiters pull only the resumes with the highest scores. Now, let’s assume you are a highly qualified candidate, but without those keywords, the likelihood of your resume being picked up by the tracking system and an actual human looking at  your resume is very slim. Now, we know why keywords are such a big deal, let talk about what they do.

Keywords describe skills, experience, education etc. that paint the picture of what the job entails. In turn, you the applicant, use keywords to describe why you are the perfect fit for the job. The goal is to match as many keywords as possible. I like to think of it like using a dating app. The app will ask you questions and try to match people who answered the same questions similarly. The point is for the recruiter to SWIPE RIGHT.

Now we know what we’re dealing with, on to how to ensure we are using the same keywords as the hiring managers. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Limit 25-30 keywords per resume
  • Don’t lie! Only use keywords that actually apply to you!
  • Use the job description posted by the employer to get employer-specific keywords. Pro Tip: Use exact words and phrases verbatim but do not copy and paste the entire ad. Instead, spread them throughout relevant sections of your resume. For example, your educational background should be in the Education Section.
  • Google the resume for the job you are applying for. For example, you are applying for a dental assistant position. Google, “dental assistant resume”. Again, only words or phrases that apply to you. Remember, these resumes are a guideline not gospel boo- everything will not apply to you.  Pro Tip: If you feel a particular keyword is more important than others, increase its “keyword density” by using it more.
  • Research your job by searching for it on job search engines (i.e. indeed.com or simplyhired.com). By researching the job descriptions of the job you are applying for, you can find keywords or phrases to include in your resume

Keywords are the key to a successful resume. Use them right and land the job you deserve!

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