A Guide to Using Résumé Keywords in Your Job Search
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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.
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.
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:
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.”
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:
In some industries, include additional sections to show your skills or certifications.
Ensure to spell your keywords correctly.
Once the ATS has scanned your résumé, the recruiter needs to be able to read it easily.
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