How to Pick the Best Resume Keywords That’ll Land You Your Dream Job

Posted by Maria Beteta on Nov 18, 2019 3:57:55 PM

A perfect resume is one of the most important things to have during your job search, but hoexactly do you decide which words are best to use?

One of the first things to note as you start looking for a job is that our resume will likely end up in a pile of similar resumes waiting to be scanned through an applicant tracking system, or ATS. 

Nearly 40% of employers rely on ATS to screen job applicants and divide the strong candidate from the weak ones.    (source:



So, with automation and machine learning as recruiters’ new best friends, your goal as a job seeker should be to get your application on the pile of potential candidates. And there’s one specific way that will help you do just that. 

The keyword? Keywords!

The single factor that will optimize your resume and make it applicable to the job you’re interviewing for is the right keywords. These are the words and terms that describe your skills and qualifications. ATS is used to quickly scan your resume for keywords to help determine if you should be considered for the position.   

ATS looks for certain things that will match the job position exactly, so if you don’t tailor your resume to the individual job description and include specific keywords, your resume won’t grab the recruiter’s attention.

But, how do we determine those specific keywords? 

  1. Start by reviewing the job descriptions you're applying to. Give a thorough read to the description of the job you’re interested in and take note of the terms that continuously show up. Make a list of all the responsibilities and skills the position requires and pay attention to the exact language used when describing them. 
    Ask yourself:
     - How is the position and its responsibilities defined?
    - Do I have these skills?
    - Do I have experience with these responsibilities? 
  2. Write your resume with the same wording use in the job description. Once you’ve looked over the job descriptions and you’ve found those keywords, figure out if you meet all of the requirements for this position. If so, it’s time to get writing.
    As you write your resume, use the exact same wording the employer is using. The terms seen in the job description should reappear within your resume, sparingly and intelligently, as you describe your skills and qualifications. 
  3. Know your audience and cater to them. Keep in mind that there are two very different viewers of your resume. ATS has become very preferable during the hiring process, but they have not replaced human recruiters. While ATS may find “bachelor of science,” “communication skills,” “2 years experience” and automatically place you within the other strong candidates, recruiters will be looking for more than the general keywords. 

Enhance your keywords with action words that will prove to the recruiter how you’ve applied the skill and responsibilities the job requires. The action words you choose will reference the actions you have mastered in your previous experiences, whether it was through your academics or your professional careers. 

According to Forbes, these are some of the best action words you can include in your resume:

  • - Achieved
  • - Improved
  • - Trained/mentored
  • - Managed
  • - Created
  • - Resolved
  • - Volunteered
  • - Influenced
  • - Increased/decreased
  • - Ideas
  • - Negotiated
  • - Launched

Using appropriate resume keywords and action words can keep you from being overlooked during the hiring process, and they will help you showcase yourself in the best way possible.

Gone are the days where one standardized resume could be sent to dozens of potential employers. Today, if you want to stand out among all the other applicants, then you need to make sure your resume matches exactly what employers are looking for. 

Need more tips and tricks to secure your dream job? Visit to learn more!

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Topics/Tags/Categories: Interview, Job Search, Resume, How To

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