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Using keywords effectively

The Hiring Process The Local Job Market


I've been advised to use keywords in my résumé. How do I determine the keywords for my industry?


The keywords for your industry (or any industry) are the language of your own skills. What tools and equipment do you use? Who is the best mechanic (fill in the job title here) you know? Why is he/she the best? What words would you use to describe him/her? Those are your keywords.

Be sure to include those keywords in your résumé. Make them even more specific: steal them straight out of the job lead. You don’t need to be original. The person who’s screening résumés is looking for those exact words. They may also have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a computer program that screens résumés. If so, the program is set up to choose the résumés with the most keywords (related to the specific job opening) and discard the rest.

So where are the keywords? Look in the job lead. You’ll find them under “Qualifications” or “Requirements” or “The successful candidate will ….”

To determine the most important keywords, you can copy and paste the job lead into a website called TagCrowd ( Click “Visualize!” TagCrowd will display the main words in the text according to how frequently they are used. The words used most often will be in a large font size and boldface.

As always, you’ll want to make your résumé, cover letter and application match the job lead as closely as possible. Use the keywords, if possible, in the same order that the job lead does. Whatever the employer lists first is the most important requirement; you want to do the same.