Most resumes end up in a database of some sort: in the resume database of a job board, in an employer's applicant tracking system, or in a recruiters email inbox.
Regardless of where the resume is stored, use of the "right words" (those used in a search through the database for people meeting a job's requirements) in that resume determine whether or not the resume is selected to appear in the search results. Those right words are typically called "keywords" and appearing in the search results is called "search engine optimization" (or SEO).
are Key Words?
For job seekers, the "key words" that matter are the words and
phrases a recruiter or employer uses while searching through resumes, like the words you type into Google when you are searching for something.
The ones most relevant to your job search are the words and phrases someone would use to describe
your next job (as well as your current job). You must be sure to include
those words and phrases, where appropriate, in your resume so your resume will appear near the top in resume database search results. For
an example see our sample ASCII
Think of keywords
as the jargon or "buzzwords" used by insiders in a profession
or industry. It's how insiders describe themselves and others in
their profession. These are the terms they give to the people writing
job descriptions as the job requirements.
are the nouns and noun phrases used
by recruiters searching through applicant databases and Web job
sites for resumes meeting the requirements on job descriptions.
and "manager" are nouns. "Administrative assistant"
and "marketing manager" are noun phrases.]
Key words are
a relatively new requirement. This requirement developed when employers
and agencies began storing resumes in applicant data in databases rather than paper stored in physical files. Then,
web job sites started appearing in 1994, and keywords became more
important. In the past, we focused on "action verbs" in
our resumes -- for example: "Managed a P&L..."
or "Created and implemented a marketing campaign..."
And, action verbs are still very important because they describe your accomplishments.
you need more than action verbs in cyberspace. You need
the key words - the right words used by someone searching
a resume database for qualified applicants - to be in your resume, so your resume will appear in the results of a search.
the education and experience you have had and the job you
want, and brainstorm the nouns and noun phrases that would be used
in the description of the requirements of that job, using the suggestions
in the section below. Look through the job postings you find for
the skills, experience, professional certifications or organizations,
etc. that will tell you what keywords will be used. If you can,
get a copy of the job description for the job you want, and pick
out the noun and noun phrases used. As appropriate (you do have
the skills, education, etc.), add those words and phrases to your
resume when you apply for that job.
your list of job-related keywords, be creative, but not inaccurate.
Search for the job you want next on a few job boards, and note what unique, job-specific words are used in those job descriptions. Make a list of the following:
- The job title of the job that you want next.
job titles that are used for your current and previous jobs, particularly
if current (or former) employer(s) used non-standard titles
- Names of
job-specific, profession-specific, and industry-specific tools
that you use or are qualified to use because of education and/or
experience (e.g. MRI, Mastercam, etc.)
and hardware that you use or have been trained to use, particularly
if it's unique to your job, industry, or profession (e.g. Microsoft
Project, SAP, etc.)
- Names of
techniques that you use or are qualified to use (e.g. Six Sigma, LEED, etc.)
and professional organizations that you have joined (include committee
membership or association officer titles, as appropriate)
- Trade shows
and conferences that you have attended and/or where you have presented
and/or technical acronyms -- the more; the merrier, as long as
they are appropriate to your experience and education
- Certifications, licenses, or other proof of professional or industry knowledge you have achieved
- Classes of
employers who need your services, "national specialty retailers,"
education that you have (degrees, majors, applicable course work,
post-graduate courses, and certifications, etc.)
- Other jargon
(common "insider" words, terms, and acronyms
specific to the profession and/or industry) that describe your
work, typical products and/or services involved, and the people
who do your job
Include the words that are appropriate for you and your target job, but don't be inaccurate or deceptive. Marketing "mode" is fine. Scam mode is not a good long term strategy. People are fired for lying on their resume or job application.
to Your Resume
both the acronyms and the phrases that explain each of them
in the body of your resume. The acronym and the phrase explaining
it don't have to be in the same sentence or paragraph. Just use
both versions if you can. It will increase the probability that
your resume will appear in the search results whether the recruiter
searches on the acronym or the phrase that it represents.
- Be inconsistent.
If you were being judged on your writing skills, this wouldn't
be an advantage. In the resume search-ability game, however, it
is an advantage. So, without destroying the meaning of
the words on your resume, be as creatively inconsistent
as possible. For example, if you are looking for a job using social media, include (if appropriate for you!) all versions of the terms - "social media" and "social networks" and "social networking."
"Experienced in the use of social media/social networks for community building... Managed social networking for ..."
- Be complete. Don't assume that people will only be searching on the umbrella term. Continuing with the social media example, name the specific social networks you can use: "Facebook" and "LinkedIn" and "Twitter" in addition to the terms "social media," "social networks," and "social networking," so your resume will pop up in the results regardless of the
exact term used by the recruiters in their search.
"Have launched LinkedIn Groups and Facebook Pages to... Established both Twitter and Pinterest accounts for..."
- Add a
section near the top of your resume named "skills" or,
even, "keywords," where you concentrate as many
of your key words as possible. For an example, check out our sample
ASCII text resume. It has a "Skills Summary" section
which is really a collection of keywords - the nouns and noun
phrases that best summarize the experience and skills as well
as education and relevant association memberships.
- Hot Tips:
sure to include the word "resume" in your resume.
"Resume" is a word frequently used by recruiters
searching for resumes. Put it in the top line (e.g. "M.
J. Smith's Resume"). Check
out our sample ASCII text
Be sure to save your resume with a file name useful to employers. You want them to be able to find your resume quickly and easily on their computers, and you want to make it clear what your field is. So, include your name (last name first) plus the word “resume” and important keywords in the file name. For example,the file name for Mary Jane Smith’s resume could be Smith-MJ-CPA-resume.doc or Smith-CFO-resume.doc.
Now that you understand more about keywords for your resume (or for this version of your resume), put them to use. Read How to Optimize the Right Keywords for Your Resumes for methods of researching and using the best keywords. Optimizing your resume for an employer's or recruiter's search should increase the effectiveness of your resume.
More about Keywords:
More about Internet Resumes:
More about Resumes:
About the author...
Online job search expert SusanP. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.
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