Are you wondering if your resume best positions you to land the job of your dreams in a parallel market, new industry or higher level position? One area you want to be sure to check is your keywords.
Resume keywords are simply the words used to describe your hard and soft skills. Many companies today use keyword scanning software to organize and qualify applicant matches with available positions. Even if a company doesn’t use keyword scanning software, it’s still extremely important to mirror the keywords listed for that position as much as possible.
You can quickly and easily make certain that your resume attracts the right attention using the following simple steps.
Step One: Identify Your Favorite Jobs
First, through you favorite job aggregator or niche job board, identify at least two positions that would qualify as your dream job.
Next, print them out and highlight all of the keywords and phrases that best describe both what you love to do most, and any other strengths and attributes that match your skills. Even if the position is in another industry, highlight those strengths that match functionally.
Now, make sure these keywords are woven throughout your resume, especially the upper portion of your first page.
Step Two: Use Your 2-3 Best Keywords
You don’t necessarily have to redesign your resume for every job you want to submit your resume to. In fact, if you are finding this to be necessary, you might want to check your focus.
Many professionally designed resumes will have approximately three keywords in a bigger, bold font, right up at the top of their resume. I call these headline keywords. This is a powerful way to immediately target your resume to each specific job you submit your resume for.
Let’s say you are submitting for a job that stresses operations, global expansions and team building. If these are all matching skills for you, then you want to mirror these in your headline keywords. With this method you can simply shift a few main keywords and get maximum attention from your target audience!
Step Three: Consider a Keyword-Only Section
In my resumes I always like to include a keyword-only section. I call it “core competencies” or “skills and abilities.” A good list should include three rows of 4 to 5 bullet points per row. In the first row, include your strongest competencies; in the second, soft skills like leadership and management abilities; and your third row can include technical aptitudes, language skills and/or secondary skills, such as leading training programs or creating marketing collateral.
Using these valuable tips gives you a simple and easy way to make sure your resume is targeted for the positions you really want!
Hi Mary Elizabeth–I found this article to be helpful but you know what would have made it useful? If you had shown an entire resume or just snippets to illustrate the points you were making in each step. I’m still trying to determine what the “list” in Step 3 looks like on a resume–“three rows of 4 to 5 bullet points per row.” I put bullets in columns not rows so I really can’t visualize this at all.
Hi Mary Elizabeth — Thanks for the recommendation to organize keywords into 3 rows based on the strongest competency, softer skills, and technical and other aptitudes we want to emphasize.
Doing that certainly beats alphabetizing them, or struggling to figure out another way to group them to reflect their importance and relevance.
Hi Vicki you are right! Here is a solution – check out the resume samples on my website here for multiple examples:
Thank you Marcy. This has always worked for me! 🙂
Thanks. I do something similar. I have taken a copy of the position description and highlight the matching keywords. I then cut/paste the text into my cover letter, delete the unneeded text, and use the keywords to help inspire me as I write my cover letter.
The site http://www.jobscan.co is also a great place to identify keywords for your resume. All you do is paste in your resume plus the job description, then Jobscan analyzes your job description for you automatically and identify the most important keywords for you! it literally takes seconds and it so worth the copy and paste. Saved me so much time AND I got more interviews using Jobscan! I recommend as well!