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Resume Keywords - Finding Relevant Keywords For Your Resume

Keywords are the jargon of a particular industry, and keywords on your resume speak to who you are within that industry. They are the words employers are searching for to establish that a candidate has a professional or academic background suitable for a particular job opening.

Resume Keywords Keep You Visible

Resume keywords can make or break your job search. In recent years, companies have grown dependant on resume databases; relying on keywords and search software to match candidates with job qualifications. If your resume has become part of a database of resumes (a more likely occurrence than not, in today's world), it needs relevant keywords in order to surface and land on the desk of a hiring manager. Without keywords, you are not a match to the qualifications of an available position, and you are effectively invisible.

OK - where do you find relevant keywords for a resume?

The First Place To Look For Resume Keywords

Start with the company to which you're applying. If that company is running a classified ad or an online posting for a position opening, the ad itself is likely a wealth of information. Odds are it will list not only the duties and responsibilities of the position, but it will identify a candidate's necessary qualifications and desired characteristics. You've now got your hands on a wealth of keywords already optimized for the position.

Additional Sources For Resume Keywords

There are a number of other places to look for keywords relevant to your industry, to your profession. Some suggestions:

  • Corporate websites. Google the websites of companies in your field of work, and look for job descriptions that fit you. You can usually find them as job opportunities on a 'careers' or 'jobs' page. Additionally, read the company's quarterly and annual reports, look over news releases, and simply browse the site looking for technical jargon (i.e., keywords).
  • Trade magazines and newsletters. You'll find that news articles and human interest stories frequently abound with technical jargon that you can put to use as keywords.
  • Talk with recruiters specializing in your industry/profession. Recruiters know what companies are looking for, and how that's expressed in keywords. Besides, getting to know a couple of recruiters is never a bad thing during a job search, irrespective of your keyword quest.
  • Dig through the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook. You can find it at libraries and online.
  • Informational sites on the Web relating to your industry. Use a search engine to pull up specialty dictionaries and glossary indexes specific to your industry or profession.
  • Visit online forums and discussion groups that cater to your profession or industry.

Make Sure You Own The Keywords On Your Resume

Once you've identified a number of relevant keywords, make sure each one matches your skills and attributes. You do not want to appropriate a keyword with the intent to impress readers, when you haven't a grasp of the terminology - or when it's not applicable to your situation. Expect to have to back up your familiarity with - and competency in - a keyword in an interview setting.

Once you're confident that your list of keywords accurately reflects you, incorporate them into your resume - most notably in the summary or profile section, but also throughout your work history as appropriate.

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