Stop Using Meaningless Keywords in Your Resume

March 23rd, 2018

If you’re like most job seekers, you use your resume document to present your background and qualifications in a readable, organized way, but you also work hard behind the scenes to make sure your file finds its way into the hands of recruiters and gets top billing in search results. You probably keep your phrases tightly aligned with the phrases used in your target job posts, and you probably load your document with strategic keywords.

But are you using the RIGHT keywords? Here are a few ways to make sure your keyword choices are actually helping you instead of just taking up space, or worse, holding you back.

Stay contextual.

Don’t just list a string of meaningless words across the bottom line of your resume document. Instead, take each of those words and find a place for it within your text. Human readers don’t like to be fooled into clicking on a document that isn’t as relevant as a search algorithm would suggest, and if the words you choose really are relevant, you shouldn’t have trouble building them into your profile.

Blend the broad and specific.

If you work in a very focused corner of, for example, the fashion industry, find a way to use the phrase “fashion industry” in your profile. While some of searches conducted by recruiters will be narrow, others will be wide, and some recruiters will be looking for your document in a huge database that covers job seekers in every imaginable sector. Don’t miss a chance to stand out.

Include these three phrases, always.

No matter what else you include in your resume, always mention 1) your target job title, 2) your geographic area, and 3) your industry. For example, “Associate Account Manager”, “Auto Sales”, and “Seattle, WA”. Or “Veterinary Technician”, “Animal Health”, and “Boston Metro Area”. These phrases are used by almost all hiring mangers and recruiters during the early stages of the search, especially if they’re sourcing candidates online. Again, don’t miss an easy opportunity to get yourself into the running.

Don’t game the system.

Some clever moves may propel you through the first stages of the search process, but they might also upset the human readers that stand at the final gates. For example, if you add skills, degrees, licenses and qualifications to your document that you don’t actually hold, but you place them in white text so they can be seen only by digital readers and not by humans, you may fool the system and get your document into the final round. But you won’t go beyond that point, and you may harm your professional reputation in the process.

For more on how to use resume keywords to your advantage, turn to the job search experts at PSU.

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