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Use Keywords Effectively

You’re already familiar with keywords from using the Web for research, shopping, and other activities. They’re the words you type in, such as “Sony flat screen TV,” to find information on a product or service.

For the purposes of your resume, keywords are words employers use to describe what they’re looking for in an applicant. They’re important to include in your resume, because they

  • Identify you as a potential match for the position. This is true whether the resume is in electronic format or in hard copy, but it’s especially important for electronic format.
  • Make your resume more credible. For example, when you name a specific software application like Microsoft Project rather than saying “strong computer skills,” you gain credibility.
  • Show that you’re part of the team. When you “speak the language” of an industry, you sound like someone who belongs to the team.

Examples of keywords

Think of keywords as the “buzzwords” or “jargon” of the industry. Below (in bold) are examples of keywords that might appear in a job description for a sales assistant:

  • Job titles (sales assistant – retail)
  • Business functions (sale order processing)
  • Responsibilities (analyze sales order data)
  • Required abilities (strong analytical skills)
  • Degrees or diplomas (associate degree in business)
  • Computer applications (SAP Sales & Distribution module)
  • Companies (IBM)

Finding keywords for your resume

The single most important source for keywords is the job description of the position you’re applying for. But you’ll find keywords anywhere you find job-related information. Jot down terms you come across frequently as you're doing your resume research.

Incorporating keywords into your resume

Keywords are especially important in the top portion of your resume, but they can, and should, be used throughout. See these sample resumes for ideas.



Department of Labor CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,
Employment and Training Administration