How to Use a Resume Keyword Scanner (With Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many businesses use resume keyword scanners to search candidates' resumes for important words that indicate they are suitable for a position. Some private companies offer resume scanning services that evaluate your resume based on the same methods that many businesses use. Learning to use a resume keyword scanner can help you understand how a company filters job applications and discover ways to make your resume more effective.

In this article, we explain what a keyword scanner is, explore the steps how to use a resume keyword scanner, review the benefits of using one, and highlight tips for improving your resume.

What is a resume keyword scanner?

Many businesses use these scanners to search resumes for relevant words and phrases that suggest the candidate has the skills and experience necessary to excel at a job. Due to the increasing importance of keyword scanners in the hiring process, some private enterprises offer resume keyword scanning services that evaluate your resume to determine how it might look to employers. These companies then give recommendations for improvement that you can use to tailor your resume and make it more effective.

How to use a resume keyword scanner

Learning how to use a resume keyword scanner can help you improve your resume and increase your chances of finding employment. Here are steps to follow for using a keyword scanner:

1. Consider your goals

Before using a keyword scanner, think about your career goals and the industry you wish to work in. Having a specific career in mind can make the resume scanning process more effective. Consider your past work experience, skills, and qualifications. You can start by searching for job openings and studying the requirements listed in job advertisements to help you identify important keywords.

2. Prepare your resume

After you decide which positions you plan to apply for, prepare a draft resume or work with a previous version and update it as necessary. Try to add keywords from the job advertisements and match your skills accordingly. You can look at resume templates and examples to help guide you as you make your own. Only spend a short time working on your resume at this stage, as you can edit it later after you analyze it with a keyword scanner.

Related: How to Write Your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Resume

3. Search for services

Once you finish your draft resume, search for keyword scanning services and choose one that suits you. You can perform internet searches to find many different options. Some of these services are free, while others charge fees depending on the level of service you require. Take time to read reviews of these enterprises. If possible, ask members of your professional network for advice and recommendations.

Different keyword scanning services might better suit specific industries. For example, some specialize in evaluating resumes for candidates in technology fields, while others offer more generalized services. Try to make sure you have a good understanding of what each keyword scanner offers. You can always try multiple services to find one that works best for you.

4. Submit your resume

After you select a resume keyword scanner, submit your resume. The resume scanner often advises converting the resume to a specific format to make scanning more effective. Follow all instructions and wait for your results. It typically only takes a few minutes for a scanner to process your resume and produce a report.

5. Study the report

A resume keyword scanner typically produces a report that evaluates your resume and provides suggestions for improvement. This report can take many forms. It may determine the percentage of relevant keywords or identify specific keywords missing from the document. Read the report carefully and make sure you understand the content. Many keyword scanning services offer support to help ensure satisfaction.

6. Edit your resume

After you've evaluated the results of your resume scan, you can update it to add relevant keywords and skills. Many of these updates are a matter of rewording specific sentences and changing how you describe your previous work experience. Try to ensure that you only add keywords that match your existing skills and experience. After editing, read over your resume and search for grammar and spelling mistakes.

7. Re-scan your resume

After editing your resume, consider re-scanning it to check for improvement. Some keyword scanners offer you services on a weekly or monthly basis, allowing you to resubmit your resume for free. You can edit your resume again if the scanner makes more suggestions for improvement.

8. Apply for positions

Once you've prepared your resume, you can start applying for positions. Keep an optimistic attitude while you wait for employers to respond, as it can be challenging to advance through the hiring process, even when you optimize your resume. If you apply for multiple positions without an interview, try to re-evaluate your approach. Read the job listing carefully and ensure your skills and experience match the position.

Benefits of using a resume keyword scanner

There are several benefits to using a keyword scanning service before submitting your resume to an employer, such as:

Similar software

Resume keyword scanning services use software similar to the programs prominent businesses use to evaluate candidate resumes. Applicant tracking services (ATS) programs use complex algorithms to scan resumes for keywords and rank all submitted resumes according to pre-selected criteria. Resume keyword scanning services study ATS programs and engineer their systems to perform the same type of resume evaluation. Using a resume keyword scanner allows you to evaluate your resume the same way an employer might.

Related: How to Write an ATS-Compliant Resume (With Tips and FAQs)

Detailed reports

Many resume keyword scanning services produce detailed reports concerning keyword usage in your resume. You can use these reports to edit your resume and add relevant keywords to increase its visibility within an ATS. For example, these reports might show missing keywords, evaluate the percentage of keywords present in a resume, and show if your resume formatting effectively highlights your skills. You can use these reports to quickly make key changes to your resume that may significantly affect future job applications.

Additional services

Some resume keyword scanning services offer additional services, such as resume creation templates, optimization for specific job search websites, and resume scans for specific industries or jobs. You can use these services to make sure your resume optimizes your chances of finding employment. Resume keyword scanners give you access to powerful tools to tailor your resume to specific job opportunities and make it easier to adapt your resume as you advance in your career.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide to Professional Resume Review

Effective preparation

Resume keyword scanners are an effective way to prepare your resume for automated evaluation. Many prominent businesses use ATS systems, so it's important to use the same tools to optimize your resume before you submit it. If you're searching for a job in a competitive field, you can assume that other people are also doing everything they can to maximize their opportunities to find employment. Using a resume keyword scanner can help you compete effectively with other applicants.

Tips for using a resume scanner

Here's a list of tips for when you use a resume scanner:

Be mindful of limitations

Although resume scanners are an important part of the hiring process for many businesses, they have a specific use and are one of several evaluation criteria. These scanners help recruiters sort through large volumes of resumes. Many companies also look over applications manually before making any decisions. Try to ensure that your resume is more than just a collection of keywords. Use descriptive words and emphasize what makes you a unique and attractive candidate. Then use a resume scanner to optimize your resume.

Continuously improve

Even after using a keyword scanner to improve your resume, focus on continually developing it to make yourself a more attractive candidate. Continue to gain new skills and build your credentials. Update your resume with new information, and continue to research ways to make it more visually appealing and unique.

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