Resume Keywords

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Just as short sound bites have come to play a prominent role in TV news reporting, keywords can determine the attention a job application and resume get. Both phenomena reflect the effects of being inundated with too much information and too little time available to process or present it all. And just as a sound bite can serve as a big clue to, if not a summary of, what the news story is about, a resume keyword or keyphrase-such as "project management" or "bilingual"-can be the knock on the company door that gets it to open for an applicant.

When keyword searches are automated and performed by software, their usefulness is reinforced by the greater technological ease of scanning for them than for more complex semantic and syntactic structures such as patterns of reasoning or of career chronology and correlations.

However, just as a news story sound bite is, in the end, no substitute for the details, the presence or absence of keywords should not be given so much weight as to distort or replace a more complete review of a job applicant.

Some companies use recruiting software to screen candidates for job openings. This software depends on keyword searches to return the best possible results to HR and is used by hiring managers when going through their database of resumes. Resume keywords must fulfill the criteria for the jobs being advertised. Keywords should reference specific job requirements, including any skills, education, competencies, relevant credentials, and other requirements needed for application. Specifying resume keywords increases the chances of finding a resume compatible with the job that is open.

Choosing the right words and properly prioritizing them is how to screen potential candidates quickly and efficiently. Resumes, cover letters, and phone conversations are the only initial communication you have with potential employees to get a feel for them and whether they would be a good fit for the organization. Using keywords to initially screen candidates for matching skill sets will help to speed the search.

To find keywords to use, look at the job requirements and highlight the key requirements for the position. These key requirements should be one word and descriptive, for example, "CPR" is a good general keyword when searching for someone with basic first aid skills. As A keyword, "experienced" is not specific enough. It would need to be combined with other, more specific keywords to be at all useful. It can also be helpful to look at keywords being used at other companies for similar positions.
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