Keywords are the backbone of electronic resumes and job banks. Many employers use a database to store and search the resumes that are sent to them by potential candidates. Recruiters search the database using industry-specific keywords. Keywords are nouns and phrases that highlight technical and professional areas of expertise, industry-related jargon, achievements, projects, job titles, etc.
Your resume will be skipped by the computer if it does not contain at least some of the keywords the employer is using, even if you meet all of the qualifications required.
Tips for using keywords in your resume:
- The best source of keywords is the actual job listing, which is likely to contain many, if not all, of the keywords that an employer will use to search the resume database.
- Include plenty of keyword nouns and noun phrases throughout your resume. If you have a "Summary of Qualifications" section at the beginning of your resume, try not to repeat the contents of this section.
- If you are applying for technical positions, you can list your skills, separating each noun or phrase by a comma.
- In some fields, a simple list of skills does not sufficiently describe the job seeker's background. Where appropriate, include accomplishments, as well, but be sure to include enough keywords to satisfy the computer searches.
- Look through recent job ads online. Certain words will reappear consistently. Those are your "key" words.
- Make sure your resume contains the key words and concepts used in the particular job listing you are applying to.
- Talk to people in the career field you are targeting, and ask them what keywords are appropriate to the positions you are applying to.
- Visit professional association Web sites, and read the content carefully.
- Try the Occupational Outlook Handbook, an excellent resource produced by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
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