Resumes Miss The Most Important Keywords

Q. Are keywords on a resume as critical as everyone claims? I know the job boards use them, but  I have had a lot of different experiences so I’m not sure what keywords I should be using.

There is no doubt that keywords on a resume play an important role for the job boards and for companies with sophisticated resume tracking systems. Too often candidates focus their keywords exclusively for the electronic system scanning their resume and completely miss the most important scanner – the human scanner.

The vast majority of companies don’t have sophisticated resume scanning software. As resumes come in the door they are reviewed by a person. So from a candidate’s perspective the question should be, “Do I have the keywords that will stand out and catch the eye of the reader?” Often the person scanning or reading your resume has certain words or terms they are looking for on the resume. So your resume has to have these keywords properly positioned so the reader’s eye catches them. It is little help having a bunch of keywords for the computer to catch if they aren’t the correct words the human scanner is seeking.

In your specific case, since you have had a lot of different experiences this becomes even more important, as the wrong set of keywords could rule you out. So it is important for you that when you send in a resume, especially to a small to mid-size company, to think about the keywords and terms the human will want to see as they read your resume and make sure those words are positioned to catch their eye.

To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.

If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free 8 Matrix Job Search Self-Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard


About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.

1 Comment

  • By Ron Feher, January 24, 2012 @ 8:00 am

    Hi Brad,

    Good points. I do think keywords properly placed are important on resumes not only to get past the Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) but also to get past those “HR Representatives” who are less experienced about what to look for. My daughter took a temp job at a company where part of her job was to review resumes. She has zero background in this. Her job was to find the right keywords. Nothing more, nothing less.

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