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Use keywords effectively

Use keywords that get your resume into the right hands.

Many online job banks use a keyword matching system to match resumes to job openings. Even if you haven't searched for a job online, you’re already familiar with keywords from using Search on the Web for research, shopping, and other activities. Keywords are the words you type in, such as “flat screen TV,” to find information, or a product or service.

For your resume, employers are looking for the keywords that match what they've included in their job descriptions. Be sure to use the employer's language to describe what you've done, and tailor each resume to the job you are applying for.

Keywords help:

  • 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 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

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.