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Karen Lombardo

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The Role of Keywords in Resume Writing
General News and Information / putanotherwayllc / Resumes

The Role of Keywords in Resume Writing

Jan 4, 2024

Using keywords in resume writing has generated a great deal of conversation, with pros and cons. Overuse of most things is never a good idea, but a balance of well-placed keywords in your resume can be helpful. Using Applicant Tracking Systems can impact how the resume is viewed and ranked based on content and keywords.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

First, what does ATS stand for? ATS is an acronym for “applicant tracking system.” This type of resume software is used by employers to store and organize applicants’ information and to streamline the application review process. An ATS automatically scans resumes to determine which applicants are a match for the open position based on specific criteria set by the employer.

Thanks to application tracking systems, HR teams, and managers no longer need to spend valuable time sorting through mountains of resumes to find suitable matches, which means they can focus more of their efforts on assessing the most promising candidates for the job. But the automation of these systems also means it’s essential that your resume is ATS-compliant so that your application has a greater chance of being seen when an ATS program is used.

Using keywords in your resume

Each time you apply for a job online, you can optimize your resume for ATS software by including keywords found in the job listing. These are the keywords the employer is likely to have set the ATS to search for, and if your resume doesn’t include these terms, it may not make it past the ATS scan.

A good spot to look for these key terms is in the job description. Make a note of the first 3−5 qualifications and responsibilities. Also, look for any terms that are used multiple times. Always include the company name and the exact job title in your list of keywords.

When adding keywords to your resume, include them in essential sections such as the summary/objective, experience, education, and skills. While incorporating several keywords is a good idea, avoid stuffing your resume; prioritize the most relevant terms and phrases that apply to your background and experience. Keep in mind that a real person will eventually read your resume if it passes the ATS scan, so keep the text easy to read.

Also, when using acronyms, be sure to include the full term (for example, use “CPA” and “certified public account,” or “MBA” and “master of business administration”) to ensure your resume will meet the criteria for either search term.

What is keyword stuffing?

According to LinkedIn, Keyword stuffing is the practice of inserting a large number of keywords, often irrelevant or repeated, into your resume. For example, you may list every possible synonym for a skill, use acronyms and full names interchangeably, or add keywords unrelated to your experience or the job description. Keyword stuffing is usually done to trick the ATS into giving your resume a higher score, but it can also make your resume look unnatural, unprofessional, and dishonest.

Keyword stuffing can have several negative consequences for your job search.

  • First, it can make your resume unreadable and confusing for both the ATS and the human reader. The ATS may reject your resume if it detects too many keywords or keywords that do not match the context of your resume. The human reader may be annoyed or suspicious of your resume if it is full of jargon, buzzwords, or irrelevant information.
  • Second, keyword stuffing can damage your reputation and credibility. If you get caught lying or exaggerating on your resume, you may lose the trust and respect of the hiring manager and ruin your chances of getting hired or even excluded.
  • Third, keyword stuffing can prevent you from showcasing your true value and personality. Instead of focusing on your achievements, accomplishments, and skills, you may end up with a generic and bland resume that does not stand out or reflect who you are.

So, how do you add keywords to your resume?

Simple. Carefully and with intent. Monster.com suggests using the job posting as your guide. The first place to find resume keywords is the job ad. If a company says they’re looking for an experienced professional who can manage a sales pipeline and has experience with vendors based in the UK, use those phrases—”manage a sales pipeline” and “experience with vendors based in the UK”—assuming you have that background, of course.

 Pick a few keywords and use them throughout your resume, but don’t just group all of them into a list. Provide context. Use the keyword as a lead to an achievement. For example, a social media-savvy job seeker might say Instagram: Leveraged social media to the market company brand, increasing followers by 10,000. Add keywords to your resume title, skills section, job titles, career summary, and experience.

 More is not better when using keywords in your resume.

Need help with your resume?

These days, many employers receive hundreds—if not thousands—of applications for each open position. With that kind of volume, applicant tracking systems help make the hiring process possible. We can help guide you through the process, create a professional resume, and land you that interview.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation, and let’s talk about how to get your professional experience properly written and keyword-ready!

Resume writing services near me


Resources: LinkedIn, Monster.com



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