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When writing your resume, think SEO. And when you think SEO, think keyword. Herein lies the secret to getting your resume past an initial screening and on to the next step in the hiring process.

SEO is short for search engine optimization, and keywords are specific words that help people find what they’re looking for online. In the job market, the right keywords in your resume will help hiring managers find you!

How to Find Keywords

To identify the right keywords for your resume, start with specific postings for jobs that interest you. Use words and phrases directly from postings to tailor your resume.

  • Be as specific as possible. Recruiters want to know exactly what you can do for them. Terms like “accounting” or “marketing” are too broad. Try using something like “extensive experience handling provider medical claims” or “strong working knowledge of HTML and Adobe Creative Suite.”
  • Check out the company website. Identify industry terms and keywords the organization uses to describe itself. Try the “About Us” page, as well as job pages.

How to Use Keywords

More than 90 percent of resumes today are searched for job-specific keywords, either by a hiring manager or an applicant tracking system (ATS). At this point, resumes lacking in critical keywords are automatically eliminated. So, be sure to use them generously and strategically.

  • Mix it up. Include different types of keywords including those that describe hard skills, soft skills, industry terms and professional certifications. Incorporate them into your resume summary statement, past job descriptions, skills section and anywhere else that seems appropriate.
  • The strongest keywords are nouns. Yes, you should use action verbs on your resume, but the “what” you performed in relation to each verb is equally important. For instance: “oversaw procurement, allocation, distribution control, stock levels and cost compilation analyses” and “conducted cross-functional management for initial and follow-up customer contacts.”
  • Present keywords in context. Instead of simply listing words, tie them into your best professional accomplishments. Here’s another strong example: “Savvy in e-commerce marketing concepts, having participated in the design of two company websites.” Generally, the more specific a keyword is to a particular job or industry, the more heavily it will be weighted.

Don’t Forget Your Cover Letter

Include keywords throughout the body of your cover letter, as well as in your resume – because cover letters often are scanned and screened as well.

  • If you’re answering an ad, tying in specific words from it is a huge plus. When the recipient reads your cover letter, their thought process should be, “This person seems to fit the description. They get it. Let’s take a longer look at them as a possible hire.”

As you search for your next job in customer service, IT, finance, healthcare, production and distribution or administrative or legal support, consider partnering with PrideStaff Modesto. We’ll work with you throughout your transition and provide access to our nationwide client network. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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