What Are Resume Keywords and Why Are They Important?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 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.

Professionals use keywords in their resumes when applying for job positions. Using appropriate keywords requires a review of the job position and the necessary candidate traits. By knowing more about resumes with keywords, you can increase your chances of obtaining a job position. In this article, we define resume keywords, explore the importance of keywords, and consider how to use keywords in your resume.

What are resume keywords?

Resume keywords refer to expressions and phrases included in resumes that directly relate to specific job positions. When candidates apply to open job positions, they can use keywords related to their individual experiences, academic backgrounds, and previous job positions. Using these keywords is beneficial because it allows hiring managers to review resumes quickly or use software with specific filters to track keywords. They can then determine whether candidates have the experiences required to excel in the open job position. Here's a list of the types of keywords you can include in a resume:

  • Job titles: Some companies and hiring managers prefer candidates who have experience with particular job titles. For example, they can request a professional with experience in social media management.

  • Previous employers: Companies may show interest in specific keywords regarding previous employers because they can identify companies and employers they know. This provides them with more information about your previous responsibilities and places of employment.

  • Software and technology proficiencies: Hiring managers look for keywords involving your technological and software skills, helping them determine how you can work within the company and whether you require additional training.

  • Industry- and profession-specific skills: It's beneficial to review job postings for specific hard skills because it helps you determine which skills the hiring manager considers desirable.

  • Certifications: Some professionals require particular certifications, which is why hiring managers can filter your resume for keywords involving those certifications. For example, if you apply for a social work position in Quebec, the hiring manager typically requires certification and licensing with L'ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec.

  • University name: Some companies review the names of the universities on a resume to determine whether the candidate graduated from a reputable organization.

  • University degree: Many hiring managers require specific university degrees to accept candidates into the organization.

  • Professional affiliations: It's beneficial for hiring managers to learn about the professional affiliations of candidates because it helps them learn about the candidate's relationships with other professionals in the industry.

What's the importance of keywords in resumes?

Companies obtain numerous applications for job openings, causing some recruiters to use applicant tracking software (ATS). This software provides recruiters with the opportunity to track specific keywords within resumes. When candidates don't have keyword-optimized resumes, this can prevent recruiters from reviewing the resumes. Candidates with resumes that include strong keywords can rank higher in the ATS programs. Once the program filters the relevant keywords, hiring managers can review the resumes more closely. Here are some benefits associated with using keywords in resumes:

  • Rank higher in the ATS programs, which increases the likelihood of obtaining an interview

  • Obtain a more relevant resume

  • Increase the resume's importance to the employer

How to use keywords in your resume

Here's a step-by-step guide for those who want to use keywords in their resume:

1. Use the right number of keywords

It's beneficial to review the appropriate keyword number for your resume within the relevant industry. The ATS tools used by recruiters can inform them of keyword stuffing, which occurs when candidates use numerous keywords in their resumes. Keyword shuffling can prevent recruiters from viewing the resume because the ATS program removes it from the list of relevant ones. It's beneficial to research the industry and required keywords to determine the correct number of keywords to incorporate in the resume.

2. Use the company name

You can adjust your summary statement or resume objective at the top of your resume to include the company for which you're applying, along with the job title. This helps your resume bypass the ATS filters and can show the hiring manager that you personalized your resume for the particular job position. It's beneficial to use the hiring company's name and build a relationship between the candidate and the company.

Related: How to Write an Executive Summary on Your Resume (With Tips)

3. Include education-related keywords

ATS tools often assign the highest preference to a candidate's education on their resume. That's why it's important to include whether you have a bachelor's degree and other fields of study or minors. This information increases your chances of being hired because hiring managers can filter for keywords like bachelor. This helps you bypass ATS filters and allows hiring managers to review your resume. For example, you can write:

  • Completed over 3/4 of Bachelor of Science

  • Majoring in Information Technology

  • Graduation expected December 2020

4. Edit job titles

It's essential to edit the job titles of previous positions within the resume to help ensure that the ATS filters identify keywords that attract hiring managers. Job titles typically vary depending on experience levels, industry, and company culture. For example, if you held a content creator job title and your duties primarily involved writing, you can change the title on your resume to content writer or copywriter. You can also change job titles on your resume if they include unprofessional words.

Changing job titles to more common names that match the responsibilities you held in the position helps ensure that hiring managers understand the potential responsibilities involved in your previous roles. You can also review whether previous companies you worked for differentiated titles depending on experience. If not, you may be able to change your position from a title like copywriter to senior copywriter.

5. Adjust keywords to match the job description

In many industries, there are multiple ways to describe the same skills. For example, you may have experience with Illustrator, Photoshop and other products within the Adobe Creative Cloud if you are a graphic artist. The job description may place all of those skills under a requirement that candidates have expertise with Adobe Creative Suite. You can adjust your resume to match the keywords in the job description, which would be Adobe Creative Suite in this situation.

Related: 29 Leadership Words for Your Resume (With Definitions)

6. Adjust tense and format

While some ATS tools recognize different tenses and other word variations, many do not. That means, if you previously wrote project management on your resume and the ATS searches for project manager, your resume may not bypass the filter. The best way to determine which tense or format the ATS searches for is to mirror the job description and the previous experiences that the hiring manager considers desirable.

For example, if you previously wrote, Managed a 10-person web development team on your resume, but the job description asks for manager experience, and specifically uses the keyword manager, then you can change your resume to read Manager of a 10-person web development team.

Related: Writing a Business Letter: Format and Example

Tips for writing a resume

Here's a list of tips for those who want to write a resume:

  • Proofread the resume: It's beneficial to proofread your resume to help ensure that there are no factual or grammatical errors. Proofreading for errors increases your chances of a company hiring you for a job position.

  • Use concise language: You may want to review whether the resume is concise and discover ways to remove wordiness or improve clarity. To do this, you can remove repetitive language and simplify language wherever possible.

  • Limit pages: You typically want to maintain a page length of one page. This provides you with the room to describe your relevant work and academic experience.

Examples of resume keywords

Here are 75 examples of some of the resume keywords that employers look for in resumes:

  • Design

  • Sales

  • Marketing

  • Strategy

  • Research

  • Brand

  • Certification

  • Accounting

  • Budget

  • Finance

  • Presentations

  • Accounting

  • Legal

  • Engagement

  • Coaching

  • Testing

  • Writing

  • Metrics

  • Inventory

  • Contracts

  • Regulatory

  • Scheduling

  • Logistics

  • C (programming language)

  • Controls

  • Human resources

  • Advertising

  • Forecasting

  • Staffing

  • Product development

  • Agile

  • Lifecycle

  • Automation

  • Economics

  • SAP

  • KPIs

  • Purchasing

  • Modelling

  • Expenses

  • Billing

  • Acquisition

  • Microsoft Office

  • Strategic planning

  • HTML

  • Software development

  • Java

  • Frameworks

  • Technical support

  • Quality assurance

  • Risk management

  • Payroll

  • Coding

  • Program management

  • Relationship management

  • SaaS

  • Product knowledge

  • Admissions

  • Spanish

  • PMP

  • Business analysis

  • Cash flow

  • Event planning

  • Migration

  • Underwriting

  • Invoicing

  • Big data

  • VMware

  • SEO

  • Workflows

  • Marketing materials

  • Case management

  • Leadership development

  • End user

  • Consulting services

  • Business continuity

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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