You constantly keep hearing how important it is for a job seeker to include as many *right* keywords as possible. It makes the person applying seem more professional, more informed on what the hiring managers are looking for, and what Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) Systems are scanning for. It increases the job seeker’s chances of passing the ATS, and makes it more likely to get invited for an interview.
But how do you find the right keywords? One would think Google could have the answer for that, but in all honesty – you can’t just list words that people on the internet tell you to, regardless of the job position you’re applying for and the company you’re looking to join. Adding 5 keywords are essential to a great resume, and you need to think long and hard which ones to include.
In this article, we will try and explain the thought process behind keyword creation, which will ultimately lead you to five resume keywords which bring results.
Action-oriented, specific keywords:
What you really need is a list of keywords specific to your industry, specific to the job you’re looking for. They also need to be action-oriented, or result-oriented – something a hiring manager can measure. So, any skills, or achievements, which are closely related to your industry, and at the same time can be used as a measure of your success is where you want to be.
1. Industry-specific keywords
From the very start, we see why simply looking for a list of keywords online can’t help your job seeking endeavors. Your industry-specific keywords can be pretty much anything. If you’re in the software programming industry, your keywords would be something like: programming, design, user experience, user interface, troubleshooting, bug hunting. Think about your industry and what problems your skills can solve within it, and those are your keywords.
2. Actionable keywords
Another important batch of keywords revolves around action, and result. You need to list the things you did, and the results you accomplished. Once again, these can be fairly broad, but you need to narrow them down to your specific industry. Let’s take programming as an example again. You’d look for keywords such as: created, programmed, coded, applied, patched, maintained. Managerial positions would require keywords like influenced, lead, managed, increased.
3. Software-related keywords
Which software do you use in your day-to-day work? Are there any programs that you feel your new job might benefit from? Programmers can list programming languages like Python, or Java, while marketing managers can use apps like Google Keyword Planner, or Google Analytics.
Has the awesome work you did earlier been recognized? Have you been awarded bonuses, raises, or labels such as ‘employee of the month’? You might omit these thinking they’re irrelevant, or consider them as gloating, but hiring managers will actually look for those. Make sure to include any awards or recognitions you’ve received at previous positions.
5. Extra knowledge
Have you finished any courses, night schools or seminars that make you stand out from the crowd? Then list those, too! Add keywords such as ‘course’, or ‘seminar’, but make sure they’re not too broad, as they can be confused with your traditional education (college or university), and hiring managers rarely look for those. For example: HubSpot’s Inbound Academy, or Google’s Adword Certification Exam.
Avoid bleak, broad words on your resume:
As much as it’s important to add all the right keywords on a resume, it is also important to avoid the wrong words on your resume too. The wrong ones are those that are weak, bleak, broad and vague – those which say pretty much nothing about you. Notable examples are: team-player, good communicator, works good under pressure, deadline-oriented, responsible.
Not only do these keywords say nothing about your previous experience, knowledge or achievements, they are also skills pretty much everyone has, and everyone is expected to have in a working environment. Of course you’re going to be responsible and deadline-oriented, everyone else is and this is usually taken for granted.
Hopefully, this blog post will help you through the thought process of knowing which keywords to add to your resume which will help you pass ATS scans and impress your next hiring manager. As you see, no one can tell you what to add, but we can show you how to discover the best keywords for your next job, by yourself.
And yes, we can tell you what to omit, to avoid being eliminated at the start.