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Separating yourself from other candidates is essential during a job search. One way to ensure your resume stands out is through the strategic use of keywords. With keywords, you can speak to a hiring manager’s needs in a concise way, ensuring they see the value you could provide.

Figuring out which keywords to use can seem challenging. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here’s what you need to know about keywords, including why they’re important, what employers want to find, and how to integrate them into your resume.

Why Resume Keywords Matter

Resume keywords matter for two main reasons. First, many companies rely on an applicant tracking system (ATS) to manage their recruitment process. Often, resumes are initially screened by the ATS, which is programmed to seek out keywords related to the job. If not enough keywords are present or must-haves are missing, the ATS assumes the candidate is a poor fit and doesn’t send the application to the hiring manager.

Second, hiring managers are often incredibly busy. Along with filling a vacancy, they have responsibilities relating to the rest of their role. Since that’s the case, they’ll commonly skim for keywords when initially reviewing resumes, focusing their attention on applications that have more of what they’d like to find.

The addition of keywords increases your odds of getting past an ATS and capturing the attention of the hiring manager. As a result, it’s wise to incorporate relevant ones into your application whenever possible.

Resume Keywords Employers Are Looking For

Precisely which keywords employers want to find varies. Depending on the industry, professional field, and individual role, hiring managers may be focused on different technical terms.

For example, if you’re seeking out a human resources position, words and phrases like “recruiting,” “sourcing,” “benefits administration,” and “job descriptions” may be targeted. For a software developer position, “troubleshooting,” “Agile,” “Python,” or “project management” might be priorities.

For those, your best bet is to review the job description. The must-have skills and experience list will typically contain keywords relating to technical capabilities, as well as relevant soft skills. Other parts of the job description may also describe the ideal candidate incidentally, primarily by highlighting critical duties.

However, certain keywords are common across several industries, fields, and jobs. Here are some examples:

  • Analyzed
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Customer-Oriented
  • Expanded
  • Increased
  • Leadership
  • Managed
  • Optimized
  • Passionate
  • Planned
  • Problem-Solving
  • Self-Motivated
  • Strategic-Thinking
  • Supervised
  • Trained

Many of these keywords are designed to be used in conjunction with job-specific keywords, essentially highlighting the impact you had on an organization. Others speak to soft skills or traits nearly every employer is after, making them wise additions to almost any resume.

How to Integrate Keywords into Your Resume

When you want to integrate keywords into your resume, using a strategic approach is essential. As mentioned above, you’ll want to dig into the job description, particularly the must-have skills list.

Generally, those features near the top of the list are the company’s highest priorities, so you’ll want to feature those prominently. Include one or two in your professional summary. Add the top must-haves to your skills list, and incorporate those and others into the accomplishments you list in your work history.

Ideally, you want to sprinkle keywords throughout the document without going into keyword-stuffing territory. Make sure they fit naturally into the overall narrative, as that typically gets you the best result.

Looking For Project Manager Jobs in NJ?

Ultimately, keywords are critical during a job search and creating an effective resume that gets noticed. If you’d like to learn more about how to increase your odds of success or are seeking out new opportunities, the team at Alpha Consulting wants to hear from you. Contact us today.

 

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