Are You Using the Right Keywords?

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

Choosing the right keywords on your resume helps you succeed when applying for jobs through online job boards. These keywords are usually one to three words that describe a particular job title, skill or experience that you need to convey as part of your personal brand. Discover why keywords are important and how to select the correct ones.

Applicant Trackers

Like it or not, recruiters and employers may use an applicant tracking system, or ATS, to vet your resume and the resumes of hundreds of other applicants. Employers set up applicant trackers to scan resumes for particular keywords to save time. If your document does not contain the prescribed keywords in the right amounts, an applicant tracker may reject your resume or not rank it high enough compared to other top candidates.

To succeed in this type of system, your resume must contain the right keywords in the right places to have optimal results. Recruiters and HR departments then pass on the best candidates to a hiring manager for further perusal. Only then does a human read over a resume in more detail when a company uses an ATS.

Finding the Correct Keywords

Choosing the proper keywords on your resume creates better chances of success. Look over the job description and put relevant keywords from the posting into your document. For example, if the posting says "electrical engineer" as opposed to "electrician," use the world "electrical engineer" if you have that particular skill set. Scan the Experience and Skills and Expertise sections of LinkedIn profiles, especially for people who have similar positions to the one you want.

Mention relevant keywords found within the company's mission statement and corporate values. The trick here is to use exact vocabulary promulgated by the employer. Where one firm uses "Customer Service," others might go with "User Experience" or "Client Success." If the job posting says "three years’ experience," then put "three years’ experience" somewhere on the resume for that position.

Tailor keywords to each position and to each company. This increases your chances of getting past the ATS by matching keywords used by a particular employer.

General Tips

Create a Career Summary section at the top of your resume that contains up to a dozen keywords from the job posting or company website. This lets the ATS scan that section first, and it gives human eyes an easy-to-read section at the top that lists your top-level skills. The rest of the resume should show how you obtained those skills using hard numbers and facts.

Understand what every keyword means when you research job postings. For instance, know the difference between a web developer and web designer before putting either of those keywords within your document. You might have someone with experience in your field look over each resume for any gaps in your keyword choices.

Your resume should match enough keywords from each employer while simultaneously showcasing your skills and experience. Once you get past an ATS, work on your interview skills as you may have a phone interview or in-person interview in your future.

Photo courtesy of everydayplus at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Althea W.
    Althea W.

    Thank you for this information. I had the same job for 28 yrs and did not know this is what you have to do with a resume.

  • David H.
    David H.

    Interesting I've been doing something like this. Its good to know, now I will be even more critical of my Resume.

  • Anjela S.
    Anjela S.

    Thank you for that wonderful information. Good stuff to know.


    Thank you for this tidbit of information. It is useful.

  • You Might Also Be Interested In

news via Free Technology for...
news via Free Technology for...

Jobs to Watch