By David Alan Carter
Keywords are the jargon of a particular industry, and keywords on your resume speak to who you are within that industry. They are the words employers are searching for to establish that a candidate has a professional or academic background suitable for a particular job opening.
Resume Keywords Keep You Visible
Resume keywords can make or break your job search. In recent years, companies have grown dependant on resume databases; relying on keywords and search software to match candidates with job qualifications. If your resume has become part of a database of resumes (a more likely occurrence than not, in today’s world), it needs relevant keywords in order to surface and land on the desk of a hiring manager. Without keywords, you are not a match to the qualifications of an available position, and you are effectively invisible.
OK – where do you find relevant keywords for a resume?
The First Place To Look For Resume Keywords
Start with the company to which you’re applying. If that company is running a classified ad or an online posting for a position opening, the ad itself is likely a wealth of information. Odds are it will list not only the duties and responsibilities of the position, but it will identify a candidate’s necessary qualifications and desired characteristics. You’ve now got your hands on a wealth of keywords already optimized for the position.
Additional Sources For Resume Keywords
There are a number of other places to look for keywords relevant to your industry, to your profession. Some suggestions:
- Corporate websites. Google the websites of companies in your field of work, and look for job descriptions that fit you. You can usually find them as job opportunities on a ‘careers’ or ‘jobs’ page. Additionally, read the company’s quarterly and annual reports, look over news releases, and simply browse the site looking for technical jargon (i.e., keywords).
- Trade magazines and newsletters. You’ll find that news articles and human interest stories frequently abound with technical jargon that you can put to use as keywords.
- Talk with recruiters specializing in your industry/profession. Recruiters know what companies are looking for, and how that’s expressed in keywords. Besides, getting to know a couple of recruiters is never a bad thing during a job search, irrespective of your keyword quest.
- Dig through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. You can find it at libraries and online.
- Informational sites on the Web relating to your industry. Use a search engine to pull up specialty dictionaries and glossary indexes specific to your industry or profession.
- Visit online forums and discussion groups that cater to your profession or industry.
Make Sure You Own The Keywords On Your Resume
Once you’ve identified a number of relevant keywords, make sure each one matches your skills and attributes. You do not want to appropriate a keyword with the intent to impress readers, when you haven’t a grasp of the terminology – or when it’s not applicable to your situation. Expect to have to back up your familiarity with – and competency in – a keyword in an interview setting.Â
Own it with…
Once you’re confident that your list of keywords accurately reflects you, incorporate them into your resume – most notably in the summary or profile section, but also throughout your work history as appropriate.
In this job market, every resume is fighting for attention – keywords, design, layout, copy. Is yours competitive? “A professionally written resume can make a big difference,” says former recruiter David Alan Carter. “Just make sure your writer is certified and the company offers an interview guarantee.” Carter reviews the Web’s most popular resume writing services at the website TopResumeServices.com, comparing quality of workmanship, spelling out pricing, and giving each a star ranking
C-Level executives will appreciate Carter’s take on executive resume services.
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