Using Searchable Keywords in Your Resume
This is critical for enabling recruiters to find you

Using searchable keywords in your resume is an important aspect of mounting an effective
job search. Searchable keywords are those words contained within your resume that best
describe your experience and qualifications, and what you’re looking for in a new position. So
why is this so important? The bottom line is, keywords are how recruiters find your resume
when they conduct a search in a resume database. Recruiters will search in their own
database or online in the job boards to find resumes, and with the tens of millions of
resumes, we must be able zero down to find candidates with the correct background and
experience. To do this we use keyword searches.

Your critical goal is to have your resume show up in a recruiter's search, and the key is to
incorporate words into your resume that are likely to be used in their keyword searches. For
example, if a recruiter is looking for an electrical engineer who’s experienced in substation
design, they’ll probably do a keyword search using ‘electrical engineer’ and ‘substation
design’ to see what resumes they can find. It’s important, therefore, to make sure the most
obvious keywords that describe what you do are included in your resume.

So how do you determine what keywords you should include in your resume? Put yourself in
the position of the recruiter and think about what keywords you’d use to find someone with
your skills. It’s highly unlikely they’ll use keywords to describe aspects of a person’s charac-
ter, such as prompt and dependable; those characteristics will be probed later, in the inter-
view process. For this initial stage of looking for resumes we use keywords that describe job
titles and responsibilities:

  • accountant
  • accounts payable
  • accounts receivable
  • general ledger

As you compile your list of keywords, be sure to include these topics, if appropriate:

  • Software that you have at least a medium working knowledge of
  • Technical skills
  • Management skills
  • Mechanical abilities
  • Specialized expertise

Here's a valuable tip: go to or to look at job postings that
match what you’re looking for, and for this process you don't need to only look at jobs in your
geographical area. Once you find some appropriate job postings, study them to find the
important keywords that are being used to describe their requirements for the job, as well as
any skills they list as desirable or preferred. You must be truthful so don’t add keywords that
don’t apply to you, but reading such job descriptions will trigger thoughts as to some great  
words and concepts you can incorporate.

Posting Your Resume Online
Posting your resume online is an essential component to your job search strategy; it allows
recruiters to troll the waters of the job boards and find your resume. In this scenario, you   
don’t know who’s looking at your resume, so you also don’t know what they’re looking for; it’s
for this reason that a resume you post online may be somewhat generic in nature. A critical
tip to boosting your success rate is to submit your resume directly to companies that have job
openings for which you’re qualified and interested. In this case, you
do know what they’re
looking for, so take the time to tailor your resume specifically to them! This strategy will take
more time and effort on your part, but if you’re truly serious about finding a job, you’ll make
the effort because your odds of success will be greatly increased. The key is to tailor your
resume directly to their job posting; use some of their keywords if they truly apply to you, and
create a resume that’s focused specifically to that target audience. Be careful not to steal
phrases that are contained in their job posting because they’ll notice that, but by closely
matching your resume content with their job description, you’ll increase your odds of moving  
to the next stage in their recruiting process. Remember, though, that through it all you must
be honest!
Make a list of terms that are important to your work history and
where you want to go, and make sure they're integrated into
your resume. Also, consider the four items I just listed; a
recruiter might do a keyword search using the words spelled out,
or they may choose to do a search using the common acronyms

  • accountant
  • AP
  • AR
  • GL

Therefore it's very important that you include both versions in
your resume without being overpowering. You can accomplish
this effectively by simply adding the acronyms in parentheses.
By doing it this way, the recruiter is much more likely to find you.

  • accountant
  • accounts payable (AP)
  • accounts receivable (AR)
  • general ledger (GL)
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