To put it simply, the job market is a competitive place. Often, standing out from the competition is far more challenging than many candidates expect. In many cases, even getting past any automated resume screeners is tricky. Fortunately, using keywords makes a difference in both cases, allowing you to separate yourself from the pack and increase your chances of getting your resume into the hands of a hiring manager.
However, you need to make sure that you’re selecting the best possible keywords. If you don’t know where to begin, here’s a look at keywords that can bolster your resume when applying for jobs, as well as how to incorporate them effectively.
Keywords That Can Bolster Your Resume When Applying
Keywords from Job Descriptions
When it comes to sources of keywords, the job description for the position you’re trying to land is often the most valuable. Commonly, the words and phrases used to describe must-have skills, experience, education, and credentials present in a vacancy announcement are the ones given to an applicant tracking system (ATS) as screening criteria. By reviewing the job ad and finding the keywords, you know what to add to your resume to position yourself as a strong match.
With these keywords, you want to ensure you’re using the exact spelling and phrasing present in the job description. These words and phrases are typically given to the ATS verbatim, and the ATS may not look for alternative spellings or acronyms, even if they’re commonly used. By using them precisely how they’re presented, you’re covering a critical base and increasing your chances of advancing through the hiring process.
Company Website Keywords
Keywords present on the company website are also wise additions to any resume. Generally, you’ll want to look for words and phrases that describe the organization’s mindset, priorities, culture, or personality, as companies often favor candidates that exhibit the same traits.
Find the company’s mission and values statement, and identify any terms used to describe personality types, soft skills, or perspectives. Additionally, check the careers page for additional insights, as organizations often share details about their culture in those areas.
In many cases, it’s also wise to check the company’s social media pages. They may provide details in their profile or posts that similarly outline desirable traits, making social media pages a potentially valuable resource.
Keywords from Other Job Ads
Another technique that can help bolster your resume is to examine job ads for open positions with the same job title as the one you’re after. This includes other openings at the same company, as well as listings from competitors.
Ideally, you want to pull up ten or more job ads. Then, compare them to find any keywords they have in common. The commonalities are functionally outlining which skills and traits are broadly considered desirable by employers, making them wise additions to your resume.
Higher-Level Position Keywords
If you want to stand out from the crowd, a strategy that works well is to find job descriptions for higher-level positions at the company that are one step up from the role you’re trying to land. Then, you can look for keywords in those postings that relate to skills you currently possess.
By adding them to your resume, you’re showing that you can provide value to the company in a clear fashion. Plus, it showcases your long-term potential, as hiring managers will see that getting you prepared to advance could take less effort.
If you don’t possess any of the higher-level skills, these keywords are still helpful. They could become talking points for various interview questions. For example, if the hiring manager asks how you envision your career unfolding, you can express an interest in those capabilities, positioning yourself as a strong long-term match.
How to Incorporate Keywords Into Your Resume
Use Exact Matches and Variations
While using exact matches to the keywords you find is critical for navigating an ATS, it’s also wise to include variations when possible. One option is to spell out a skill, educational level, technology, or anything that’s usually abbreviated and then have the abbreviation in parentheses next to the fully written out version. That ensures you’re covering both bases.
Display Must-Have Skills Prominently
In job ads, companies typically present a list of must-have skills, and they often put them in the order of their importance. As a result, it’s wise to display those near the top of the list prominently. Consider adding them to your professional summary and skills list, as well as mention them in relevant achievements within your work history. By doing so, the hiring manager can clearly see you have these critical capabilities, as well as how you use them to provide value.
Pepper Your Resume with Keywords
Ideally, you want keywords integrated throughout your resume, as that can strengthen your position as a candidate. Mention the top two or three high-priority keywords in your professional summary, and include a series of relevant hard skill-related keywords in your skills section. Then, sprinkle additional keywords throughout your work history, connecting them to quantifiable achievements whenever possible.
In some cases, you can also work keywords into your education and training section. Often, this is easiest with credential-related keywords. However, you can potentially go further if you highlight specific projects or courses related to those academic or training achievements.
Are You Ready to Launch a Job Search? Burnett Specialists Can Help!
Once your resume is keyword-rich, the next logical step is to get your job search underway. By partnering with Burnett Specialists, you can streamline your job search for greater efficiency, all while gaining access to opportunities with leading employers throughout the area. Plus, you’ll get ample support from skilled recruiters, ensuring you can secure a right-fit position as quickly as possible.
If you’re ready to launch your job search and want to partner with an experienced recruiter, Burnett Specialists can help. Learn more about the open positions and see how our recruitment team can get your career moving in the right direction today.