What are keywords?They are words or phrases specific to a particular industry or profession. They imply additional skills and experiences that are vital to someone's success in a position. They can also relate to the particular level of responsibility one has had in an organization. For example, executives may include the following keywords in their summaries:
- Strategic Planning
- Multi-Site Operations
- New Business Development
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- P & L Responsibilities
Why Use Keywords?
- Scanned resumes. Employers often do not have the time or resources to read each resume submitted for a position. In order to save time, a scanner is used to input the resumes into a company's database. Keywords that are essential for candidates to be considered qualified are then identified and resumes are searched for them. These words are specific to the particular position, and resumes that don't contain them are not considered.
- Search engines. If you have signed up on one of the Internet search engines or have submitted your resume on-line to specific companies, keywords will connect you to job postings. The more keywords you include in your resume, the more "hits" you will have. Researching employers and jobs will help you identify what keywords to include.
- Keywords communicate multiple skills and qualifications to prospective employers. As was mentioned before, use keywords that will be appropriate for a particular employer. For example, "project management" can imply several things to different audiences. This can be particularly important if you are making a career shift. Talking to current employees of an organization or checking their website or annual report can give you clues.
Where to Use KeywordsOnce you have identified the keywords for a particular position that interests you, it will be important to draw attention to them. Repetition can also be helpful in having an impact on a resume reader.
Keywords need to be at or near the beginning of your resume. They may be part of your objective, your summary section, or if you are using a skills-based or combination format, they may even be titles of sections. In addition, you may want to use them in descriptions of positions you have held.
Cover letters are another place to use keywords. Some employers carefully read cover letters and others do not, so don't assume your cover letter will be seen. However, effective cover letters connect the employer's needs (keywords) with a candidate's qualifications (keywords). By using keywords, you make it easy for the employer to consider you for the position.
Finally, keywords are not limited to your resume. In an interview, use these words to describe your experiences, in examples of your work, and in selling yourself as the ideal candidate. You will confirm what they have surmised about you, and you will leave them with a strong impression. Don't forget your references. Inform them of the position you are seeking, share the keywords that are important to that employer, and make sure they can reinforce your experiences regarding the keywords.