Try the Word Cloud Test to Strengthen Your Resume

John Scott
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The use of applicant tracking systems is prevalent across much of corporate America, making resume keywords critical if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing that dream job. Measure the strength of your resume keyword strategy by creating a word cloud that will show you visually what those digital applicant tracking systems see, and then tweak your resume until it truly reflects your strengths and skills.

When you send your resume out in response to a job posting or ad, an applicant tracking system or another scanning technology may be the determining factor in whether your resume is ever actually read by anyone at that company. Hiring managers assign keywords to each open position, and the ATS then scans submitted resumes looking for the same keywords, ultimately returning the ones it deems are the best match. Even if you think you have a strong resume with appropriate keywords, it is in your best interest to generate a word cloud from it so that you can make a better assessment of how well it will perform when you send it out.

The theory behind a word cloud is easy to understand. It simply pulls out words used in your keyword-rich resume and then puts them together in a visual cloud formation. The more frequently a word appears, the larger it will be in relation to the other words in the word cloud. Some word cloud programs will use a combination of size and color to denote the most frequently used keywords.

If you are applying for a category management position, for example, you should see certain words feature more prominently in your word cloud, including planogram, space planning, shelf management, pricing, sales, and marketing. While some keywords are intuitive, depending on the position you are applying for, you should always look to the actual job posting or advertisement to try to determine the keywords the hiring company may be using. Create a master list of the words, and then keyword optimize your resume to reflect them.

There are several free programs available, such as and, that will generate a word cloud from your resume using the copy and paste function. Once you have generated it, use a screen capture program to save a digital copy or print it out so that you can analyze it thoroughly and refer back to it the next time you decide to update your resume.

Creating a strong resume that is keyword-rich is critical in today's job market if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting hired. A word cloud program is one tool you can use to ensure that your resume is filled with the correct terminology and reflects your personal branding.


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