For every job application you send, there’s a resume that needs to be polished. Whether you’re crafting your first resume ever, revising one that’s out of date, or updating one with your new experiences – crafting a resume takes time, skill, and a keen eye for detail. It’s not something to type or quickly or blindly set off without a double take, or a second set of eyes to look at.
One of the most important aspects of the resume is how quickly it can catch the eye of a recruiter or hiring manager. To do so, you need to have keywords–but not too many. Keywords need to be strategically sprinkled throughout your resume to avoid “keyword stuffing” and ultimately adding too much fluff. Instead, you want to be smart about what keywords you use, and where you place them.
Here’s where resume experts are the best eyes you can get–and if you want to know how to craft a winning resume, these professionals have some of the best insight to share. Glassdoor spoke with Wendi Weiner, attorney and career branding expert, and Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert for TopResume to provide you with the best advice for adding keywords into your resume.
Where to add keywords
It’s all about placement and Augustine says that the third-top of the page should provide a snapshot of your professional experience and why you’re the best candidate.
“Since recruiters typically review a resume starting at the top of the document and working their way down, this snapshot area is prime real estate for relevant keywords,” says Augustine.
The best keywords to use
If you’re wondering what keywords you should be using in your resume, take a moment to read through the job description and write down all the words that stand out to you. The keywords used in the job description are the same keywords you want to work into your resume–and are the first words a hiring manager will notice on your resume.
“For example, if you are applying for a senior sales manager role, the hiring manager is going to be looking for the years of experience that the position is requiring, the targeted skills you have that match the job description, and other industry specific words such as business development, team management or cross-functional leadership, high-impact sales revenue, etc.,” explains Weiner while noting that the job description holds targeted and industry specific keywords that you should use.
Additionally, Augustine points out that keywords can be tricky because you have to choose words that are relevant to your goals and the position you’re applying to. Moreover, different keywords will appeal to different hiring managers.
Augustine advises to determine what particular skills the job description is stressing the candidate absolutely must have–and to make sure you list those as your skills. The job description really is you best friend when choosing keywords.
“Use the job description to identify the right keywords that speak to the hiring manager’s needs, and incorporate that information into the relevant parts of your resume.,” explains Augustine. “For instance, your professional summary should summarize your experience and qualifications, emphasizing the value you’ve created for previous employers. The keywords that accurately describe your skill set should be listed in the key skills section and peppered into your work history.”
Keywords to avoid
One big mistake candidate’s make on their resume is using superfluous adjectives that don’t necessarily make sense.
“People tend to use keywords like “results-driven” or “dynamic” without really providing a factual basis for those things,” says Weiner. “Focus on results that you effectuated at the organizations and the key contributions you made.”
For example, when writing bullet points under your job descriptions, you should avoid starting the sentence with “responsible for,” or “responsibilities included.” Instead, Weiner advises that you use a powerful action verb (such as, “streamlined,” “orchestrated,” “boosted, “ etc.,) in order to really sell your potential and craft a winning resume.
“Action verbs help you describe what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve contributed to a company,” says Augustine. “Use verbs that clearly explain what you achieved for the company, not just what tasks you performed for them. Did your responsibilities lead you to generate revenue, decrease costs, improve customer satisfaction, or increase brand awareness? Start your bullets with words that describe the result you achieved and you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager.”
Don’t just use your Thesaurus to change words into keywords – with a little extra time spent looking over the job description, and some tweaking in your sentences, you’ll polish off a winning resume in no time. Goodluck!