Great Resumes Use the Right Keywords
The Best Resume—The Keyword Resume
Want to have a truly outstanding resume? Then get to know and use the keywords that apply to the job type or industry you are seeking. If you merely list the "features" of your background from a product-driven approach, you will most likely fail. Make sure you take a customer-driven approach and list what is important to your customer. What are the right keywords? They are the industry or job-defined words and phrases that have special meaning to those within that particular industry or job type. Acronyms are used in almost every industry. Information systems is a prime example. To list the following under the Summary section of the resume of an Information Systems major would be entirely appropriate:
- Developed C++ and .NET interfaces for SQL Server database.
Or within Supply Chain Management, the following might be an example:
- Developed JIT Inventory Control system using A-B-C hierarchical FILO process.
Keywords solidify your standing as an insider. By using them correctly and in proper context, you communicate that you understand the terminology of the field and are able to speak the language fluently. In addition, most Internet resume databases and applicant tracking system resume searches are based on keywords. If you have properly included them, you will be found. If not, you may never surface. Note that the words do not have to be acronyms or technical specs to qualify as keywords. Every industry and job type has its own set of commonly used keywords. Get to know them via your course work, subscriptions to the leading industry trade magazines and/or membership in an industry trade association. Start to acquire the "language" of the field you are entering. Using keywords in resumes is just the start—you will find them used throughout the job search process and throughout your future career.
To turn this equation upside down, think about how you search for jobs online. You use keywords and phrases specific to the areas where you are qualified. Employers do the same when searching for resumes. So having the right keywords means that you will be found. Without them, you will not be found.
One final note on keywords—please do not use them simply because they "sound good" but do not actually apply or, even worse, you have no idea what they mean. Make sure you understand what the keywords mean before using them. Proving your ignorance via inappropriate use of specialized terms quickly moves you into the "no interest" category when screening decisions are being made.