Loading your résumé with keywords isn’t enough to get you an interview.Keywords on your résumé have taken the spotlight when it comes to penetrating the online systems. But they aren’t enough to get that all-important phone call.
- Words and phrases to include.
- Words and phrases to avoid.
Although many keywords are industry specific, Mr. Block says, certain phrases are important to almost all companies. They include “communication skills,” “problem-solving,” “team work,” “leadership,” “resource optimization,” and “image and reputation management.”Business Insider reiterates the sentiment of many others in this article on keywords:
“Resume software filtering works and the fact is, your resume has to mirror the job posting,” Rick Gillis, author of the book “Job!: Learn How to Find Your Next Job In 1 Day,” tells us. “The posting contains all the key words.” (Emphasis mine.)The Keyword Dilemma: This gets very confusing. On the one hand, we are admonished to use keywords like “team work” and “problem solving”, yet, a quick Internet search on: “Words and phrases NOT to use in a résumé” will bring up articles that list those exact phrases. Further, the following phrases are found on a majority of job postings:
- Strong communication skills
- Team work
- Problem solving
- Many articles are about getting through the parsing systems. Those articles tell you to use the exact phrases that are found in the job posting.
- Other advice is from the perspective of a hiring professional. This can be a recruiter, a Human Resource generalist, or a hiring manager. Once you have victory over the parsing systems, your cover and résumé have to appeal to real people who need clear, easy to find, succinct information on who you are and what you have to offer. It has to be information that’s important to them!
Cover letters and résuméshave to get through the parsing systems AND appeal to hiring professionals with credible information. Then there is the issue of differentiation. A company culture is defined by its vocabulary—its keywords! Consequently, you, as a jobseeker would like to show that you fit in so you use the keywords from their website as well as the job posting. That’s great! However, these are also the words and phrases that the hiring professionals are most familiar with. So if your résumé has ONLY those words, it may demonstrate that you may “fit” but it won’t help you stand out.
Use words and phrases that show you will fit in AND make you stand out.Keyword Tip Number 1: Avoid generic words and phrases. Add descriptors that match the intention of the job description and show that you bring added value. So the right keyword or phrase has to match the job posting AND describe important information about you. Together they should create a compelling story.
Instead of “Team player” try: “Collaborative team member.” For “Project manager”, consider adding a descriptor like “Non-profit project manager” or “Software project manager (SDLC).” “Strong communication skills” might better be framed as: “Open, positive communicator.”Keyword Tip Number 2: We’ve established the importance of using key words from the job posting, however, I suggest adding a few words and phrases that bring value and are NOT found on the posting. Again, this is about the intention of the job description.
For example, if you deal with company finances, then “Regulatory compliance” might be added. Is the job in a manufacturing or laboratory environment? If so, then “Operational safety processes” might be something to work into your résumé. Do you manage a team? Then consider, “Team motivation and accountability.”The idea here is to bring something that is NOT on the job posting and demonstrate that you understand the position and you are not simply parroting back the words from the job description. Keyword Summary: Your résumé is more than just information. Your résumé creates an experience and it is something that can be crafted for your potential reader. You can control, to a certain extent, the message that your reader receives from your résumé. Keywords are vitally important, but they are one element of several.
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