A Guide to Using Résumé Keywords in Your Job Search - Deepstash
A Guide to Using Résumé Keywords in Your Job Search

A Guide to Using Résumé Keywords in Your Job Search


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A Guide to Using Résumé Keywords in Your Job Search

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Applicant tracking system (ATS)

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), making your résumé stand out has become a technical art form. The technology uses keyword searches in résumés to help filter candidates. 

Companies use this technology, called an applicant tracking system (ATS), to save time and weed out candidates that aren’t a good fit for their job description. Knowing how to use keywords can help make your résumé stand out.


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Recruiters and hiring managers have to sort through hundreds of résumés. Instead of reading through each résumé, they insert keywords into the ATS so it can filter out those who won't be a good fit. Keywords can be skills, credentials, or prerequisites that the job requires. 

Once the résumés are filtered, a recruiter or hiring manager then pays attention to the candidate’s qualifications, skills, work experience, and career progression. 


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How to find keywords to use in your résumé

Write your résumé first. Then, for each job application, update the words on your résumé to incorporate the keywords that match the job description.

Candidates can find keywords in three places:

  1. Within the job listing, especially in the “qualifications” and “responsibilities” sections.
  2. On employees’ LinkedIn profiles: Notice how employees in a similar position at that company talk about their skills and responsibilities.
  3. On the company’s website: see how they talk on their about page to see how you can speak to them in their words.


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  • Job-related skills: hard skills, soft skills, core qualifications
  • Action verbs: accomplishments and leadership expectations
  • Education requirements: college degrees, high school diplomas, industry certifications
  • Relevant experience: job titles that the employer is seeking

Most ATS do not understand synonyms, abbreviations, plurals, or similar skills. Ensure to pay attention to how the company use the tense and format of the skills, nouns, verbs, and job titles listed. For example, your résumé may say “managed projects” but the ATS is looking for a “project manager.” 


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How to create an ATS-friendly résumé template

ATS can’t read through shading, doesn’t understand images, and most recognize certain fonts better than others. Many also read your résumé hierarchically.

Use or create a template for your résumé that the ATS can read:

  • Fonts that ATS can read: Arial, Tahoma, Impact, Georgia, Courier, Lucinda and Trebuchet.
  • Put your contact information at the top, not the bottom.
  • Include contact, professional summary (2-3 sentences), skills, work experience, and education.


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In some industries, include additional sections to show your skills or certifications.

  • Split your technical skills and soft skills into two sections
  • Training and certifications
  • Honours and awards
  • Languages you speak
  • Proficiency levels for skills or languages
  • Organizations
  • Interests
  • Social media or portfolio links

Ensure to spell your keywords correctly.

  • Add job-related skills keywords in the "skills" section
  • Relevant experience keywords in the "work experience".
  • Action verbs belong in the "work experience."
  • Educational requirements should be included in the "education" section. 


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How to incorporate keywords for recruiters

Once the ATS has scanned your résumé, the recruiter needs to be able to read it easily.

  • The recruiter will be looking for ATS keywords as well.
  • Your keywords should fit in an easily readable way.
  • Keep your résumé to one page.
  • Hiring managers also want to see that you’ve developed throughout your career and willing to advance your skills and knowledge.


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