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How To Make Your Resume Better With Keywords And Phrases

Submitting a résumé after the résumé but still not being called for an interview?

The 2015 MRI Network survey of 400+ recruiters found we were in a candidate market. Applicants are more confident about turning down a job offer instead of a better one.

If this is the trend, you are probably wondering why you don't have a job offer yet.

Perhaps there aren't enough vacancies in your industry?

A 2015 survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) shows that 48% of small businesses say there were no or few qualified candidates for the positions they wanted to fill.

So what is there?

The NFIB's finding gave an indication: few qualified Candidates.

When a company or small business publishes a job advertisement, applications are checked manually or using ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software. The screening process finds applications that contain keywords that are used to measure the applicant's compatibility with the position.

Resumes that do not contain these keywords will not appear in search results, so they will not be read. In recruiter jargon, these résumés are in the "Applications black hole."

That means you need to include these keywords on your resume to increase the chances of your application appearing in the recruiter's search.

Use resume keywords and phrases to help you stand out when searching for job vacancies. (graphic source)

This comprehensive guide will help you understand the importance of keywords on a resume. It will also teach you how to find the right keywords to use on your resume. Find out how best to incorporate keywords and phrases on your resume to beat ATS software and improve your chances of landing the next job you apply for.

Get killer resume keyword tips, a useful list of keywords to use on a resume, and include keyword samples that you can use quickly. Let's start with a description:

What counts as a keyword for a resume?

Keywords are mostly nouns.

You have learned to use power words or action verbs like 'created', 'solved', or 'educated' to highlight your skills and achievements. A recruiter does not use these words to find the next employee.

The 'What' It is worth highlighting the keywords that are used on a resume. In the following examples, the italicized words are power words, while those in bold are the keywords:

  • Created a Exercise program to the new employees
  • Coordinated Product launch campaigns and Outreach events
  • Developed a budgeting software with JavaScript and HTML

For example, if a startup is looking for a programmer with some experience with Ruby on Rails, this will be included Ruby on Rails or ruby in their keyword list. You can also include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in their keywords to narrow down the search as these programming languages ​​relate to Rails.

Types of resume keywords

What keywords should you use on your resume? Here's a quick place to start thinking about what types of keywords to include on your resume:

  • Industry-specific skills - Bookkeeping, product launch and proposal preparation
  • Soft skills - Problem solving, communication, sales and team management
  • Hardware and software used for the job - Dreamweaver, SQL and VOIP
  • Job titles - UX Designer, Business Development Manager and Full Stack Developer
  • Training and certification - Six Sigma, project management and ITIL
  • education - MBA, PhD and BS
  • Industry jargon - Workflow for asset management, A / B editing and digital video editing
  • Impressive conditions - Fortune 500 and Top Sellers
  • Company name - When looking for applicants for top positions, well-known companies are sometimes used.
  • Locations - Postcodes, city or state names, with which the search is narrowed down to a geographic location

Continue keyword list (free PDF download)

Here we have a quick reference List of PDF resume keywordsfree download. You can use it as a handy guide to help you find the right keywords and phrases to use on your resume.

Continue Keyword List - Free PDF Download.

How Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) work

Now you can think that it is enough to include all the relevant search terms. However, ATS software is more complex than you think. It can be programmed:

  • Look for resumes that contain the keywords employers want
  • Count the number of times each selected keyword appears on the resume, then rank the applications in order of keyword frequency
  • Assign a weight to a specific keyword. When design skills are more important than problem solving for a particular job, the recruiter can tell the ATS to add more value to keywords "Adobe Photoshop", "Illustrator", or "Typography"
  • Detect keyword spam

ATS advanced software can recognize keywords used in context. This can rank a keyword used in a related skill set higher than one listed in a table or alongside other unrelated keywords.

You can't make the ATS the best candidate simply because you put a number of keywords on your resume.

How to find the right keywords for your resume

Now you need to identify the resume keywords and phrases used for your target position. The best resume keywords are related to the position you are applying for. It takes some work to figure out what these keywords are.

The truth is, there is no way for you to know the exact keywords that are used by companies and recruiters. But with enough research, you can come up with an educated guess that gets close to your actual resume keyword list. Use these research techniques to find the right keywords for your resume:

1. Review the job posts

Read ads for the same job title. Search job portals (Monster, In Act, Glassdoor, etc.), specialist publications and company websites to collect at least 10 ads for the same position.

How to analyze the job advertisements

  1. Read each ad, then mark the keywords that could be used in the employer's criteria. Use the keyword types listed earlier as a guide. The skills and experience mentioned in the first paragraph are usually the most important.
  2. List all of the keywords that you highlighted after reading all of the ads. Then select the keywords that appear frequently, or at least usually appear, in most job advertisements. These will likely be used for that particular position.

Use a word cloud generator if you don't want to manually search for keywords in every ad. Just paste the entire ad into the system and select the most prominent ones in the word cloud. The number of times a word appears in the display is shown next to each word.

For example, here are the resume keywords related to this front-end developer job:

Use a word cloud generator to analyze the keywords for your resume.
  • building
  • interface
  • Responsive
  • Teamwork (team, work)
  • code
  • Users

2. More strategies for finding resume keywords and phrases

Use the process outlined above. However, instead of looking for job advertisements, look for keywords in:

LinkedIn's skills section

Visit your LinkedIn profile, scroll down and then click "Add Skill."

Find keywords for resume on LinkedIn.

Enter a skill in the search box to display a drop-down menu of related skills. In the example below, enter the phrase "social media "related skills such as "shownSocial Media Outreach "and "Social Media Optimization."This is a great way to find skills related to what you have already listed on your resume.

Find related skills in Linkedin.

3. Review "One-up" Jobs

View three to four job postings one step above your current position (i.e. Junior Designer to Senior or Lead Designer). The skills featured in the various advertisements are the keywords for this position.

If you have some of these skills, add them to your resume. This will give you a good leg up off other applicants who don't have these next level skills.

Quick tip: Don't you have any of the skills you found? At the end of your résumé, add an "Areas of Interest" section and paste the keywords there.

4. Talk to an insider or recruiter

Ask a recruiter or someone who currently works for your target company for an informational interview. Learn how to conduct an informational interview:

Recruiters will be annoyed when asked about the list of ATS resume keywords, but there's no harm in asking about the work experience, background, and skills they want for a specific position. The jargon and specific skills they mention will likely be used to test applicants on their ATS.

Where and how to add keywords on your resume (with examples)

1. Continue the summary of the summary

The executive summary, executive summary or professional executive summary - whatever you want to call it 'uses the Hiring Manager with background information about you. This is one of the best places to include relevant keywords to help establish your professional brandsays Joanne Munekawa, Career Services Manager at Employment BOOST.

The keywords in the summary are also presented in a context, i.e. ATS and people-friendly.

"The 'Subjects' section below the summary is an area where you can list skills and experience (keywords) that are not often mentioned on your résumé," added Munekawa.

It's a great way to add density to a keyword on your resume, like in this example:

Summary of the example summary with underlined keywords.

2. Work history on your resume

Standalone keywords like skills and industry jargon will give your resume a boost when doing Boolean searches on an ATS. However, this is not enough for more sophisticated ATS searches.

Advanced ATS software recognizes the context. For this reason, you should also use keywords that could be linked to other skills or experience related to your job.

"Both of these methods ensure that your application is used in addition to searches on ATS or resume database pages," said Dawn D. Boyer, PhD and CEO of Boyer Consulting.

In the example below you can see the main keyword, "X-ray imaging", alongside related skills like CT imaging and wearable radiography, is written:

Use related keywords in close proximity to create a stronger link.

Keywords should also be tied to achievements. One way to do this is to write an achievement describing how you have used the expertise represented by that keyword.

In the following example, the underlined Keywords are changed by adding brand names that determine the caliber of clients this editor works with.

An example from JobHero's work history demonstrates the ability to link brand names to include keywords again.

3. Resumption of skills

The “Skills” section is the most obvious part to put in the keywords of your resume, specifically skills, hardware or software and industry jargon. If you put keywords together in different sections relevant to your job, the ATS gets a context that is easy on the eyes.

The following is an example of a section of a skill for a photographer's resume.

Example of a resume section with relevant keywords and specialist knowledge.

4. Education and training

A college degree or alma mater is sometimes used to review applications. For example, Ivy League schools can be used to filter applications for high profile companies and positions. A particular college degree, on the other hand, can be used for entry-level positions where the candidate's degree is one of the most important considerations for an interview.

The training and certification area is another area where you can add skills, industry jargon, and specific training for specific job titles. For example, a company that hires an experienced ECE may also need CCNA certification so that it will add it to the list of keywords.

Place relevant resume keywords in your education and training area.

5 quick tips to maximize the performance of keywords on your resume

1. Use synonyms and acronyms on your resume

Again, you don't know exactly what terms a recruiter or hiring manager uses in the ATS. Hence, it makes sense to consider synonyms, acronyms, and other iterations of a keyword.

In the example above, the resume contains bothCCNA" and "Cisco Certified Network Associate" consider both search terms.

The ATS does not automatically recognize common abbreviations either. I don't know"MBA" also means "Master of Business Administration" The ATS therefore only marks the shortened version if the recruiter has also entered it into the system.

2. Use location-based keywords

Recruiters also use a city, state, or specific city in ATS searches to find applicants for local positions. For example, an Austin-based company hiring a graphic designer uses the key phrases, "Graphic Designer" AND "Austin" The ATS will only show applications that contain both key phrases.

It pays to include your city, town, and state on your resume. If you are concerned about your privacy, just leave out the house number and street address.

3. Formulate obvious skills associated with your job

Yes, but the ATS can only see the context to a certain extent. For example, "a lawyer who sees the sentence." "DivorceLawyer " will know that you have experience with divorce arbitration and custody disputes. But an ATS won't mark your resume for those important phrases just because divorce attorney is your job title, says Hossein Berenji of Berenji Family Law.

Because every industry and job title has specific responsibilities, an ATS cannot link all of these tasks to every existing job title.

4. Use keyword analysis tools

Check out Jobscan or Resunate, services that can compare your resume with the job advertisement you are applying for. Simply upload your resume to the system and paste in the entire job description to start the comparison.

Jobscan gives you a percentage of how your resume compares to the job ad and some tips on how to improve the keywords on your resume. Resunate uses a 10-point compatibility scale instead of a percentage.Both services offer a free trial.

If you want to know how many times a keyword or phrase appears on your resume, use WriteWords.

5. Focus on hard skills on your resume

Soft skills are assessed in interviews. A candidate's creativity, leadership, communication skills, and the like are difficult to gauge on your resume. Therefore, they are often not used for ATS filters.

Use hard skills, training, and experience as the most important keywords on your resume.

Write for both audiences

It is important to make sure that your resume passed the ATS exam. However, the human readers, the recruiters, and the employers are just as important. Don't lose the readability of your resume just to satisfy an ATS.

Ideally, an ATS- and Recruiter-friendly résumé is grammatically correct and includes at least 50% of the keywords in the job ad.

Not sure how to make a great resume that employers and ATS will love? Check out this comprehensive, multi-part series on How to Make a Great Resume (Ultimate Guide) or get started with this helpful tutorial:

Also, make sure to use a professional resume template so you can quickly create a great looking resume. Here is a curated collection of professional resume templates to help you find just the right design:

Don't forget to download the free PDF list of resume keywords I've put together for various jobs. This list is a good starting point for your resume.