So you’ve been turning in resumes left and right. You keep tweaking your skills and experience, certain that this time, it’ll make a difference. You know you have the experience and skills to land the jobs you apply for. And yet…crickets.
It’s a frustrating situation, and you’re not alone. After all, only 2% of applications result in an interview!
There are many reasons why a resume might not make the cut. But in today’s technological age, research suggests that a large percentage of U.S. companies, large and small, use some type of recruitment management system (RMS) or applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen resumes. And there’s one major factor that can make or break success in these systems:
Thankfully, you can increase your chances of success if you use the right resume keywords. But why are they so important, and how can you tailor your resume for these software systems?
Let’s answer these questions and look at examples of effective resume keywords for different industries so you can craft a great resume that lands the job.
Why Are Resume Keywords Important?
Resume keywords are more than just words that you stuff into your document—they’re critical elements that bring you closer to meeting the hiring manager’s expectations. They transform your resume from just another application to one that resonates with the specific needs of the job you’re applying for.
1. Optimizes Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems
First and foremost, these keywords optimize your resume for ATS software. This software is designed to streamline the hiring process by scanning, sorting, and ranking resumes based on how well they match the job criteria. It works by filtering candidate resumes based on:
- Positive criteria, such as certifications and degrees
- Negative criteria, such as employment gaps or criminal records
- Keywords that are a match
It accepts those who meet the criteria and rejects those who don’t, keeping them from ever being seen by a human. By incorporating the right resume keywords, you ensure that your resume passes through this initial electronic “gatekeeper,” increasing your chances of making it to the hands of a human recruiter.
2. Matches Your Resume to the Job Description
One of the other critical functions of these keywords is to demonstrate that you’re a clear fit for the role. When your resume has the same keywords as the job description, it signifies that you’ve read and understood the requirements and that you possess the relevant skills and experience.
3. Makes You Stand Out Among the Competition
Did you know that recruiters only spend an average of 6-7 seconds reading a resume before making an initial decision to discard it or review it more thoroughly?
That means if your resume doesn’t easily display what they need to know, they’re highly likely to move on to the next candidate. When your resume mirrors the language and skills specified in the job description, it immediately stands out.
With the right resume keywords, you can capture the recruiter’s eye and signify that you’re well-versed in the industry’s terminology and requirements. This increases your chance of moving on to the next stage.
3 Ways to Tailor Your Resume for ATS
Using ATS-friendly keywords is one of the best ways to tailor your resume. But there are several other ways you can increase your chances of getting your resume through the ATS filters and into the recruiter’s hands.
1. Read the Job Description to Find Potential Keywords
First, decode the job description to find specifics, such as:
- Job titles
These are the terms the ATS is programmed to pick up on. Once you have a list, integrate these keywords into your resume in a natural and relevant manner. Be careful not to stuff them in your resume! Instead, thoughtfully incorporate them where they make sense, such as your professional summary, work experience, or skills section.
2. Keep the Format Simple
ATS software can struggle with the usual embellishments we add to documents to make them look more appealing. These assets can interfere with ATS scanning and information extraction. Make your resume ATS-friendly by:
- Creating a clean, straightforward layout
- Using standard fonts like Arial or Times New Roman
- Avoiding columns, tables, headers, footers, and graphics
- Keeping your text in a traditional, linear format
- Listing work experience and education in reverse chronological order
- Saving your resume as a Word document (.doc or .docx) or plain text (.txt) file
3. Match Your Resume to the Job Title
Aligning your resume with the job title in the job listing is a strategic move that helps your resume rank higher in the ATS. This doesn’t mean you should lie. Rather, you’re adapting your title to the industry standard that closely matches your skills and responsibilities.
For example, if your previous role was “Lead Project Coordinator,” and it entailed similar responsibilities to a project manager, consider adjusting it to “Project Manager” to mirror the job listing.
30+ Examples of the Best Resume Keywords by Job Type
Whether you’re in project management, healthcare, or engineering, there are specific keywords that can elevate your resume and majorly boost its impact. Consider the following resume keywords that can help your resume stand out and get you an interview.
A project manager excels in managing complex projects and leading diverse teams while successfully navigating ever-changing business landscapes. Therefore, a hiring manager for this role would seek a blend of technical proficiency and strong leadership qualities. Some keywords they may look for include:
- Change management
- Effective communication
A traffic coordinator’s role revolves around managing and overseeing the flow of projects, typically in advertising or marketing agencies. The hiring manager looks for candidates with exceptional organizational skills, an eye for detail, and the ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.
Here are some keywords to include on your resume:
- Organization skills
- Workflow optimization
- Communication skills
- Project scheduling
- Interpersonal skills
- Deadline management
In the retail industry, a retail associate is a customer-facing role that drives sales and plays a big role in the customer experience. This position requires a blend of customer service excellence, product knowledge, and sales acumen. Therefore, a retail associate’s resume should include keywords that demonstrate their ability to engage customers, manage products, and contribute positively to the store’s environment.
Some examples include:
- Customer service
- Sales proficiency
- Inventory management
- Team player
An office manager is pivotal in keeping an office running smoothly. Hiring managers look for individuals who can oversee office operations, manage staff, and optimize workplace efficiency. Therefore, an office manager’s resume should highlight keywords that emphasize their ability to maintain office systems, handle personnel duties, and facilitate a productive work environment.
Here are some keywords to incorporate into your resume:
- Administrative management
- Staff supervision
- Scheduling coordination
- Office operations
- Record keeping
- Leadership skills
A copywriter is the creative brain behind advertising and marketing content. They need to be skilled in crafting persuasive, engaging copy that resonates with the target audience and drives results. Hiring managers look for candidates with a flair for writing, an understanding of consumer psychology, and the ability to adapt their style to various formats and platforms.
Copywriters can use the following resume keywords:
- Creative writing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Content strategy
- Brand messaging
- Copy editing
- Collaboration skills
Civil engineers play a critical role in designing, building, and maintaining the infrastructure that shapes our communities. This role requires technical expertise, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work on complex projects. Employers seek candidates who can manage construction projects, ensure compliance with regulations, and contribute to sustainable development.
A civil engineer’s resume should incorporate the following keywords:
- Structural analysis
- Project management
- Environmental compliance
- Infrastructure design
- Construction oversight
Get Help Landing a Job You Love with Insight Global
In today’s ever-evolving job market, staying informed and adapting your approach to your resume is key to success. And the way to do it is through effective resume keywords, job description matching, and streamlined formatting. By optimizing your resume for ATS software and tailoring it for each position, you build a strategy that can propel your career forward.
Finding a job can be challenging, but you’re not alone in this journey. Insight Global is here to guide you through each step. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, we tailor our expertise and resources to showcase your unique skills in the best light and connect you with employers that align with your career goals and values.
Ready to take the next step in your career? Contact us or search our job board today to see how we can help you find not just the right job but a job you’ll love.