This is a question I get from almost every prospective client. How do you know what keywords to use in my resume? They’ll invariably test me with “I’m assuming you know which keywords the scanners need to get my resume past the computers?”
And while yes, I do – I also have a lot of mixed feelings about this topic. Here goes!
99% of the posts you are reading about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and the dreaded resume black hole are written by resume writers or someone selling some sort of “get past the ATS” technology.
Yes, they 100% exist and even small companies use them now. But the reason you are not getting past the scanner isn’t necessarily because you haven’t hacked some hocus pocus keyword list. Quite frankly, it’s probably because you are not trained in resume writing, don’t do it all day every day, and are not doing a great job at selling yourself.
The keywords that should be in your resume are the keywords that describe your field, function, and desired position. They are the words that you absolutely are probably already using when you speak to your colleagues and supervisor, so long as you are already in your field. They are also the keywords that can be found by researching potential opportunities posted on LinkedIn or Indeed.
There are two types of keywords that I focus on – soft skills and hard skills. The hard skills are those things that we quantify – sales, revenue, margin, cost savings, inventory accuracy, employee turnover, customer satisfaction, and other KPIs.
The soft skills are just as important but can be harder to put a number around. Qualities such as leadership, change management, employee engagement, and a positive attitude are just as important to an employer so don’t neglect them in your resume.
Where do you put the keywords? Everywhere! In a keyword/skills section, in your headline and subheader, and throughout the body, within the context of achievements and accountabilities in your resume.
I do a personal phone interview with each of my clients so that I can get to know them better and because you are the experts in your field. When you speak candidly about your career, responding to probing questions in an organic dialogue, you provide all of the raw material for your resume.
This is the beauty of working with a resume writer. In a pretty effortless process, you talk about yourself and I take the notes and do my magic to present your career in a clean, polished, and impactful branded resume.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge, do some research! Review LinkedIn profiles and resumes of your competition or colleagues. Search for jobs that you would like to apply to and note how they present the ideal candidate so you can position yourself as a skills and culture match.