Resume Keywords and Language
This article is part 3 of a series of articles that will help you get your ideal job. From developing a professional resume to acing an interview, this series will help you understand what it takes to get hired in a competitive job market.
The importance of using keywords in your resume cannot be overemphasized. There are certain words that work well to convey your unique talents and experience. However, there are others that will detract from your message. You have to find the right balance if you hope to get your resume noticed.
There are 2 types of keywords we refer to when we use the term resume keywords:
- Industry or recruiting keywords for scannable resumes
- Action words that are key factors in writing an effective resume
Understanding How to Use Resume Keywords
Many companies or recruitment firms today use resume scanning software. This software generally identifies and sorts resumes by looking at certain “keywords” in the document. This ranking system helps them quickly filter through hundreds of resumes to quickly find who is a good match and who isn’t.
In such a scenario, knowing the right industry or recruiting keywords is key, but how do you know which keywords are right for the position you’re interested in?
Here are 5 Tips:
- Look closely at the job ad or posting. See which words are used. If you can, look at some other job advertisements for that company and see if there are certain words that keep popping up.
- Go to the company website and identify some of their key values. A good place to look is their mission statement. The annual report is another great source of key values.
- Scan trade journals to identify key trends in your industry. Then, select resume keywords from that list.
- Try to use any keywords you select at least 3 times, in both your resume and cover letter.
- Use the most important keywords within the first line or two of each job description section of your resume.
Industry Buzzwords and a cautionary note
Industry “buzzwords” should be used with caution. If you use them to describe yourself or your experience, then you have to be able to back them up with actual examples. Use the words because they are meaningful, not because they are impressive.
High Impact Keywords and Finding the Right Balance
Besides using the various job-related keywords throughout your resume, it’s also crucial that you make use of action verbs in all of your descriptions.
Action words need to be specific and provide a clear, concise picture of your accomplishments, skills, and experience. However, such verbs of high impact keywords should be used to highlight important sections of your resume that you want the hiring manager to remember. Actual examples or impact statements or crucial skills or specialties should incorporate one or two keywords.
Resume Keywords that Will Hurt Your Resume
While some words may make your resume sound more professional and thoughtful, there are some words that can detract from the overall effectiveness of your resume.
Unless you’re trying to convey your ability to function as an integral part of a team, words like assisted, contributed, and supported are not going to be very effective. These words say you helped, but not how. If you must use these words, follow them with a complete description of your role.
Successfully is another meaningless resume keyword. Rather than using it, give concrete examples of your accomplishments that prove your success at your past jobs. The phrase, responsible for, takes up unnecessary space on your resume and should be avoided. Besides, your resume is the place to list your accomplishments, not your job duties or responsibilities. You also need to avoid “flowery” speech and words. By trying too hard to sound intelligent or “in the know,” you may convince your reader of just the opposite or even worse, confuse them.
The key is to say what you mean, clearly, plainly and simply, using powerful action words. Stick to these resume keyword rules and you can’t go wrong!
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