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Just How Do Keywords Work in a Resume

So many people are put off by the idea of writing a resume, and ignore doing it until the absolute last possible minute, many times when it is too late. Using a resume that is written properly will save you a lot of heartache in the end, though-and is worth the time investment. Taking advantage of keywords to write a resume is an excellent idea, particularly if it is done well.

One of the main reasons keywords is such a hot topic is because of company scanning machines. Employers use scanning machines to search for keywords in a candidates resume that match their requirements, weeding out everyone else whose resumes don’t match that.

In the last decade or so, it has become the norm for resumes to be sent out over the internet through search engines-particularly the job hunting search engines. Employers will take advantage of these particular search engines, and feed in the required information for each job posting, and a set of tags. In other words, the tags are the keywords that they are looking for in resumes. These tags not only help the companies, but they help you by permitting you to select categories that you feel fit your skill level better. By knowing what category you picked the job from-operations, finance, sales and marketing-you can re-word your resume using relevant keywords to fit the job description (posting) you are interested in. So, how do you know what keywords to add in a resume?

Make a rough list of what you need to add to your resume. Consider the jobs that are on your resume already. What things do they have in common? Start to think about what words you could conveniently place to attract prospective employers’ attention throughout your resume-words that are part of your past experiences–and relevant to the next position. Previous experience managing a manufacturing company can be turned into a keyword, or two-manufacturing operations or operations executive.

Place the keywords appropriately in your resume. Make the sentence or title that they are in seem natural, yet the placement of the keyword will gain attention, especially in the search engines. Consider a bulleted keyword list under your career summary. Grabbing the attention of human resource managers or the hiring person is easier if you have a keyword list.

Now that you know how keywords work in a resume, take the time to rework your resume. A little bit of extra effort quite often pays off in the long run-especially when you’re looking for the job of your dreams.

Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant and President of Professional Resume Services, Inc. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 9+ best-selling career books. She has achieved international recognition following yearly nominations of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award. Erin has written thousands of resumes for executives and professionals.

As a proud member of PARW, CDI, AORCP, Erin also sits on CDI’s Credentialing Committee for new certification candidates and serves as a Mentor for CDI’s Member Mentoring Committee. She also is a featured blogger on several well-known career sites.

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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Monster.com, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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