How to Use Keywords for Your Resume [List by Industry + Examples]

You might have heard someone say “you should be an expert copywriter to write your resume”. That wouldn’t be an exaggeration considering the expectations of the modern recruiters.

Last update:
How to Use Keywords for Your Resume [List by Industry + Examples]

Write your resume in 15 minutes

Our free collection of expertly designed resume templates will help you stand out from the crowd and get one step closer to your dream job.

Create your resume
Table of contents
Table of content

Write your resume in 15 minutes

Our free collection of expertly designed resume templates will help you stand out from the crowd and get one step closer to your dream job.

Create my CV

But, the reality is, that writing your resume is still a DIY task – and we’re here to prove it. Here we explain in detail – one of the most important components in modern resume writing: Resume Keywords.

This comprehensive guide contains everything about keywords for your resume including:

  • Why you should use keywords on your resume
  • How to find the right keywords for your resume
  • Example keywords for different job descriptions
  • Pro tips to pass the ATS test

Meantime, we have a complete solution here for you to write your resume. Our automated resume builder comprises ready-to-fill resume templates that put together your information into a modern resume in less than 10 minutes.

For the good or bad, today’s job market is way different than how it was 5 years ago – demand for all the jobs has gone up making recruiters receive hundreds of applications for each job position – compelling more companies to adopt applicant tracking systems to shortlist candidates.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS): is software that assists recruiters and employers in their hiring process. The main function of the software is to shortlist the resumes based on the set parameters – what we call keywords. In addition, ATS undertakes job description generation, advertising, shortlisting, and interview scheduling – a total recruitment solution.

keywords for a resume

For instance, if the recruiter receives 100 resumes for a particular job posting, they upload or scan them to the system. The ATS is first set up with the keywords based on the job description – keywords are also given weightage based on their importance – which we call keyword density.

If the recruiter expects only to check 20 resumes manually, before calling 5 candidates for interviews, the system provides the exact number of resumes that best suit the set guidelines – saving hours for the recruiter – also making the whole recruitment process faster.

Even if you have the required professional experience and academic qualifications, your resume might still not reach a human eye if it does not have the important keywords for the job – not that you’re not qualified for the job – just that your resume is not good enough to pass the ATS.

Now, forget the ATS if you’re applying for a local business that might not use a system for shortlisting. Hiring managers are busy people. They spend less than 10 seconds on a resume on average – the same document you spent days creating and optimizing.

Hiring managers don’t read – they scan. They are no better than ATS, to be honest. With years of experience, they scan your resume in a couple of seconds for the important keywords. Here you need to be extra careful to put the right keywords in the right places to make sure the hiring manager picks them.

Now, you should understand that you have to write your resume to satisfy both the robot and the human.

Type of Keywords on Your Resume

There are mainly two types of resume keywords you should be aware of:

  • Primary keywords
  • Secondary keywords

Primary keywords refer to those that are essentially the most important keywords related to the job listing – not including these on your resume would most likely toss your resume away from the ATS.

Secondary keywords refer to those that are related to the job listings but are having a lesser importance ranking. However, these are the keywords that make you stand out from the rest.

Where to Find the Relevant Keywords for Your Resume?

In this complete guide to resume keywords, you could find the most sought-after keywords by the recruiters for different professions.

Apart from that, you may use the following sources:

Job Ad or job description

Consider the following example job advertisement posted on LinkedIn.

Example job advertisement for a marketing manager (we have highlighted the keyword for your reference):

Now, this example is a fairly detailed version of a job ad – it contains everything you need to include on your resume and cover letter. Do not worry if your job advertisement does not have such a detailed description – use other sources as well in such cases.

When you check the advertisement, make a list of all the keywords – and divide them into primary and secondary keyword categories.

You don’t have to include all the keywords – however, try to include all the primary keywords on the resume.

📌 Tip: Read job advertisements of your ideal employers and make a list of skills, qualifications, and certifications they’re looking for. Acquire those skills or at least start learning them. Use online platforms such as Udemy, Domestica, Coursera, and other online education platforms.

Create your cover letter with a perfect cover letter template from our resume builder. Also, check out modern resume templates that suit any industry and match your professional profile.

Company Website and the Internet

Go to the company website or their career blog and check the industry they are in, new projects coming up, and the trends in the market – also, check the vision, mission, and the about section to extract the values of the business and its future direction.

keywords for a resume

Google the position you’re applying for – you’ll find plenty of keywords, job descriptions, job advertisements, and forums where people discussed the topic.

⚠️ Warning: Including all the keywords from the job description could attract the suspicion of the recruiter – modern ATS is also capable of identifying such activities. Therefore, naturally include keywords, do not force them. You might also find it helpful to gather keywords from multiple sources.

Where to List Keywords on Your Resume?

Until the ATS tests your resume, it doesn’t actually matter where you put the keywords – but when it goes through the ATS and gets to the hiring manager’s hands, it matters.

For the safe side, we should know where to include the resume keywords in a way that is visible to both the system and the human eyes.

These are the sections you should consider:

  • Resume Header
  • Professional Summary
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Additional sections

It’s almost all the sections, right? That’s how powerful the resume keywords are!

Let’s see how we could incorporate keywords in each of these sections with examples:

1. Resume Header

The header of your resume contains your name and contact information – personal details – so what makes the header contain any keywords?

The header contains a valuable keyword: the job title. Include the title of the position you are applying for. Make sure you use the same position name as mentioned in the job advertisement.

Consider the following resume header for a retail manager position:

Josh Williamson
Retail Manager
+1 234 48 23 54

You could have used assistant manager or store manager instead of retail manager – just use the same title as they have.

2. Professional Summary

The professional summary is a two-sentence summary about the candidate – includes key achievements and accomplishments – and explains why you are the best candidate for the job.

Consider the following example professional summary for a truck driver (keywords are highlighted in BOLD)

CDL-A Certified truck driver with over 10 years of experience in long-distance heavy vehicle driving seeks to join Mclerance Logistics as a reliable delivery partner. In my previous job as a driver at CP Holdings, I have maintained a clean driving record achieving 84% client satisfaction and 92% on-time delivery.

Primary keywords: CDL-A/ CDL-A Certified, CDL-A Licensed, heavy vehicle, long-distanceSecondary keywords: clean driving record(s), client satisfaction, on-time delivery

3. Experience section

The experience section is typically the most important section on any resume. However, most experience sections candidates often write are no more different than the standard job descriptions.

You should write your achievements on the jobs instead of copying your roles and responsibilities listed on the job description – while doing this, include relevant primary and secondary keywords naturally.

Consider the following example experience section for a store manager’s resume.

Aug 2017 to Present
Store manager
Mini Stores Ltd
  • Assisted the team to achieve the daily retail sales targets achieving 110% of the 2019 overall sales target
  • Managed website sales and reduced the web sales lead time by 25%
  • Achieved an all-time high customer satisfaction score of 4.9/5
  • Executed merchandising activities and floor planning
  • Managed inbound and outbound logistics efficiently
  • Used visual merchandising best practices to achieve a 4% additional gross profit margin

Primary keywords: retail sales, sales target(s), merchandising, visual merchandising, gross profit margin, profit margin

Secondary keywords: Assisted a team, led a team, website sales, web sales, lead time, customer satisfaction score (rating), floor planning, inbound and outbound logistics

4. Education section

The education section on your resume highlights the academic qualifications you have gathered over years. The job ad usually specifies the academic qualifications the recruiter expects for the position.

For certain high-skilled jobs such as medical professionals, engineers, and lawyers, these academic qualifications are mandatory – they fall into primary keywords on their resumes.

For most other professions, though the job ad mentions the ideal academic qualifications for the candidate, they fall under secondary keywords – not mandatory or deciding factors for the shortlisting.

Consider the following examples:

Example 01: Education section for a Medical Doctor’s resume

Doctor of Medicine, 2010-2015
University of California, San Francisco Medical Center
  • Clinical procedures
  • Human biology
  • Disease process

Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, 2006-2010
University of California, LA
  • Genetics
  • Molecular biolog
  • Human anatomy

Primary keywords: Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor’s of Science in Biology

Secondary keywords: clinical procedures, human biology, disease process, genetics, molecular biology, human anatomy

📌 Tip: For a specialized profession, the type of the degree would be considered a primary keyword

Example 02: Education section for a secretary resume

Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, 2015-2018
Columbia University, NY
  • Business strategy
  • Management accounting
  • Management reporting

Diploma in IT, 2018-2019
Institute of Information Technology, NY
  • Microsoft office suite
  • Database management

Primary keywords: Bachelor’s degree, Microsoft office suite

Secondary keywords: business administration, database management, management accounting, management reporting, business strategy

📌 Tip: For a secretary, the type of the degree may not be a primary keyword – they could have a degree in marketing, administration, HR, or in a relevant field

5. Skills section

The skills section of a resume should comprise a mix of soft skills, hard skills, and IT skills relevant to the position. This is a great section to write a list of important keywords to increase the keyword density of your resume.

keywords for a resume

Consider the following example skills section for a Truck driver’s resume:


  • Heavy vehicle inspection
  • and
  • repairs
  • Inventory
  • management
  • Understanding of state safety regulations
  • DOT regulations
  • knowledge
  • Understanding of interstate routes
  • Safe work environment practices
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • High level of work ethics
  • Leadership and time management

6. Additional sections

Additional sections on the resume are used to get extra attention from the hiring manager for the key information – they also provide the supplementary support required to get your resume shortlisted in case you’re lacking the core experience.

Additional sections could be anything that adds value to your candidacy – skill certifications, computer skills, interests, and languages are some of the commonly used sections.

For instance, for a truck driver’s resume, Commercial Driving License (CDL) class A certification would be considered a primary keyword. Even if you have included the same keyword in your experience section, repeating it under a separate section would get more attention while increasing the keyword density.

A Complete List of Keywords for any Industry or Job Position

Here we have created a job-winning list of resume keywords that you can use to create yours. Do not copy and paste them, but use them as a guide to writing your resume.

Keywords for Administrative jobs: secretary, administrative assistants, HR executives

Clerical support data entry resource management workflow planning management support
budget preparation back-office operations business administration administrative process confidential documents
travel plan client communication calendar management contract administration front office operations
executive support project management project manager regulatory compliance meeting planning
staff development client handling answering calls meeting scheduling work prioritization
application management ATS candidates career development training & development
hiring labor arbitration performance-based incentives key performance indicators (KPIs) professional recruitment
headhunting assessments management trainee program change management employee relations
employer branding equal opportunity grievance staffing sourcing applications
 job advertisements  job descriptions a labor union On boarding training

Check out these complete resume examples:

Sample Administrative Assistant Skills ResumeSample Resume for SecretaryHow to Write a Captivating Receptionist Resume

Keywords for engineers: mechanical, civil, electrical

Reengineering business process reengineering project management computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) computer-aided design (CAD)
3D modeling product lifecycle facilities management maintenance experiment
design & development analysis cross-functional team management research & development (R&D) process development
industrial engineering compliance tender documentation BOQ analysis method statement
prototype planning costing optimizing scheduling
specifications quantitative analysis sustainability energy efficiency circuits
MCBs installation system design failure analysis virtual reality
mechatronics electromagnetic aerodynamics dynamic static
quality standards quality testing patents computational fluid dynamics thermodynamics
mathematics heat transfer material testing finite element analysis data analysis
AutoCAD Ansys customer relations supplier relations term negotiation
power distribution blueprint reading force distribution concrete grade simply supported

Check out these complete resume examples:

Mechanical Engineer Resume | The Ultimate Writing Guide + TipsCivil Engineer Resume + Tips, Templates & MoreChemical Engineer ResumeElectrical Engineer Resume

Keywords for healthcare jobs: nurses, doctors, physician assistants

Ambulance acute care chronic care continuity care counseling
inpatient outpatient physician nurse preventive care
public health Bachelor’s of Science in Biology social responsibility substance abuse wellness
patient Emergency care unit operations treatments saline
procedures NCCPA certification X-ray orthopedics medical history
prescribed medication electronic medical records (EMR) physical examinations traumatic, pediatric CT scan
MRI interpreted reports physician assistant a doctor in medicine Microsoft office 360
Postoperative care Treated wounds healthcare service intra-articular injections Clinical experience
Ultrasound Gynecology Diagnostic tests Cardiology cancer treatments
pharmaceutical agents medical equipment dietetics consultant physicians refer patients
Oncology Pharmaceutical Anesthesia  Family medicine Consultant chanelling

Check out these complete resume examples:

Sample Dr. ResumeWrite a Physician Assistant Resume ClinicallyNursing Management ResumesPharmacistDental assistantNursing resume

Keywords for food service jobs: hostess, cashiers, sales assistant

Cash handling cash registry cash counting credit card payments bartending
catering food preparation welcoming guest relations point of sale (POS)
reservations answering calls customer inquiry handling vendor sourcing inventory management
occupancy food safety allergies amenities beverages
wines & spirits cocktails & mocktails portion fast-paced fast food
menu knowledge customer service hostess dine-in take away
promotions customer satisfaction cleanliness score unscheduled cleanups scheduled cleanups
party reservations outlet capacity day shift night shift phone inquiries
uber eats web inquiries social media engagement social media inquiries ingredient testing
sanitary kitchen efficient operations additional hours overtime kitchen equipment
full-time staff part-time staff food waste mobile application dinning layout

Check out these complete resume examples:

Sample Resume Customer Service RepresentativeCashier Resume ExamplesRestaurant Manager Resume ExampleSample Hostess ResumeBaker resumeMcDonald’s resumeWaiter resumeBaristaChef resume

Keywords for creative jobs: graphic designers, photographers

Adobe adobe creative suite Photoshop Indesign Illustrator
Lightroom Color theory brand colors portfolio web design
digital art typography font selection creative Ad creative
gallery bibliography ideation concept creation detail
layout media, print video editing photo editing retouching
mockups 3D design  logo creation social media posts canva

Check out these complete resume examples:

Freelance artist

Performing arts


Creative resume

Actor resume

Keywords for sales and marketing positions

Brand management advertising ad buying campaign management social media marketing
social media advertising facebook instagram linkedin google ads
search engine marketing (SEM) search engine optimization (SEO customer retention customer acquisition direct response marketing
network marketing customer loyalty customer lifecycle value accounts management B2B marketing
B2C marketing customer behaviour analysis competitor analysis market share market entry
entry barriers exit barriers target market buyer persona target audience
customer requirements sales incentive sales team management team building product positioning
brand positioning product development telemarketing product launch creative design
ad copy targeted advertising copywriting sales forecast supply chain
product placement data analysis trend analysis cross functional team social media team
agency experience influencer outreach return on investment (ROI) adobe creative suite Photoshop
Lightroom Premiere Illustrator customer relationship management Keyword research
Ahref Ubersuggest Semrush Moz Analytic tools

Check out these complete resume examples:

Marketing Manager Resume ExamplesPublic Relations Resume ExampleDigital Marketing ResumeResume Sales Manager Examples

keywords for a resume

Keywords for IT professionals: Software engineering, data analytics

System design architecture artificial intelligence (AI) user interface (UI) user experience (UX)
UI/UX design SaaS ERP SQL Python
Java C++ Database management network administration system configuration
WAN LAN remote access security breach project management
Javascript cloud computing compliance and security data localization software development
code no code data structure data mining data analysis
cloud architect google certified AWS certified object-oriented programming debugging
trend analysis customer behavior analysis statistical analysis statistical modeling regression analysis
data manipulation customer journey analysis  big data computer science data visualization
Microsoft Excel Tableau data quality assessment erroneous data data set
Minitab google analytics SAS enterprise oracle click-through rate

Check out these complete resume examples:

Business Analyst

Data Analyst Resume Samples

Sample IT Project Manager Resume

Software Developer Resume Sample

Keywords for managerial positions

Assets liabilities evaluation analysis corporate
change management career development cost reduction cost-cutting efficient operations
entrepreneur policy development performance management key performance indicators (KPIs) team building
workflow profit margin gross profit margin net profit margin variance analysis
financial management debt restructuring investment tax relief long term planning
strategic planning financial goals SMART objectives process improvement productivity
hiring tactical planning senior management revenue startup culture
hierarchy profit or loss client relations growth planning strategic direction

Check out these complete resume examples:

Example Resume Project Manager

Sample General Manager Resumes

Office managerAssistant manager

Product manager

Keywords for industrial operations: manufacturing, logistics, warehousing

Warehouse management storage facility route management route planning occupational hazard
fleet management carrier currier cargo handling freight
customs compliance demand planning forecasting inventory control just-in-time
outsourcing fixed-price contracts deadstock dispatch operations  health and safety
import export inbound outbound logistics
order fulfillment order processing port operations shipment handling shipment planning
terminal operations warehouse operations asset management bidding international trade
inventory control offshore purchasing procurement loading/ unloading subcontracting

Check out these complete resume examples:

Supply chain manager

Industrial engineer

Keywords for accounting and finance positions

Current assets fixed assets current liabilities balance sheet profit/loss statement
treasury stock share options capital investment
cash withdrawals operating costs forex foreign currency risk currency swap
hedging  letter of credit payment gateways Microsoft Excel (MS Excel) Microsoft Office Suite
investor relations shareholder relations stakeholder management accounts payable accounts receivable
assets liabilities audit banking relations commercial banks
cash deposits cheque realizations recovery profits net profit
gross profit profit margin return on investment (ROI) return on equity (ROE) investment portfolio
financial planning debt debt restructuring loss gain
loan corporate tax value-added tax (VAT) financial analysis ratio analysis
credit rating debt financing bonds securities risk management
financial risk management stock options debentures revenue sales

Check out these complete resume examples:

Most Effective Finance Resume Example

Sample Resume for Financial Analyst

Bookkeeper resume

Accountant resume

A List of Soft Skills You could Include on Your Resume

Hiring managers include a list of soft skills they’re looking for in the job advertisement and enter the same into the ATS.

Anyone can put up a list of soft skills on their resume. Then why do they care about soft skills?

The hiring manager expects the candidate to identify their skills and match them with what is required to outperform in the job.

detail oriented flexible multi-tasking
people skills team player attention to detail
clear communication enthusiastic friendly
positive upbeat pleasant smile
willingness to learn problem-solving ability to work under pressure
teamwork organizational skills interpersonal skills
forward-looking data-driven creative

Keywords You Shouldn’t be Using on Your Resume

You can seriously damage your resume score by using the wrong keywords.

Usually hiring managers do not include negative keywords in the ATS – in other words, they don’t provide instructions to the ATS to reject resumes. Therefore, wrong keywords wouldn’t damage your ATS score – but, it would affect the manual screening. The hiring manager would judge the candidate's profile, personality, and attitude with the word selection.

🛑 Don’t use these keywords to draw negative attention from the hiring manager

Avoid Boss Positions

Don’t include CEO, Owner, Founder, Co-founder, or Entrepreneur – if you’re talking about your solo practice or the startup.

On one hand, these positions will make the hiring manager feel that the candidate is overqualified for the position – that the candidate would not be willing to work under a manager or not fit into a team if they’ve already held a top decision making role in a company.

On the other hand, being the CEO of your startup would look too fancy for the hiring manager if you haven’t reached that position through the ladder – step-by-step. For instance, if your experience section starts with 3 years of sales assistant work and all of a sudden you’re the CEO of your own hardware equipment company – it’s not impossible, but would attract the hiring manager’s negative thought.

Instead, you could put your position as a general manager, marketing manager, or operations manager in your own company which would bring more value to your resume.

Cut Industry Jargons and Acronyms

If you’re applying for a position in an industry that is different from your previous work, do not just include the acronyms or industry jargon.

For example, if you’re applying for a manufacturing or industrial environment, JIT would be a known term. Imagine, being a marketing manager in a manufacturing organization, now you are applying for an IT company. Instead of putting JIT, it would be more valuable if you put it as Just-in-time. Moreover, your resume would be checked by an HR manager in most cases – explaining the industry-specific keywords in detail would be beneficial.

Bragging is never going to help you

The American-style resume allows candidates to brag to a certain extent. However, excessive bragging would create a negative picture in the hiring manager’s head. Don’t call yourself the exceptional, professional, super-qualified, unparalleled candidate – let your experience and education talk.

Avoid These Keyword Mistakes

White text

There was a practice among some candidates to hide important keywords on their resume with white text. This text wouldn’t be visible on your resume though help you pass the ATS test. You could put a couple of keywords that you’re not qualified to use without getting noticed by the recruiter.

This used to work.

But not anymore!

Now, the ATS is developed to identify white text and any unusual keyword activities on the resumes – instantly rejecting them from the system.

Keyword stuffing

You should write your resume for a human to read, understand, and make a decision about your professional profile – not for a robot to count the number of keywords – stuffing your resume with keywords will do more harm than good.

Modern ATS is capable of identifying well-written resumes. More you optimize your resume for the industry, company, and the position you’re applying for, it would eventually be pushed to the top of the pile.

Identify the right keywords and include them naturally on your resume to get the full benefit of resume keywords.

Key Takeaways

  • Having keywords on your resume helps you pass the ATS and the hiring manager's manual screening to get more interviews.
  • Primary keywords save your resume from rejection while secondary keywords make it stand out from the rest.
  • The keywords you should include on your resume varies on the position you apply for, the industry you will be working on, and the company culture.
  • Start your resume keyword research from the job advertisement and extend it to the company website, industry news, and online forums to create a comprehensive list of keywords.
  • Include keywords in every section of your resume: header, professional summary, experience, education, skills, and additional sections.
keywords for a resume


Can I include an unfinished Bachelor’s Degree on my resume?

Yes, you can. You shouldn’t lie on your resume – but you can mention the level you have completed in your degree or the course. For instance, put the expected graduation year with the degree.

Eg:Bachelor’s degree in accounting (expected graduation in May 2023)

CIMA (up to management level)

Should I include resume keywords on my cover letter?

Most recruiters do not run cover letters through ATS. They will first pick the ATS passed resumes and read the respective cover letters. However, including key phrases on your cover letter would help it align with the resume and further stimulate the hiring manager to meet you.

How many resume keywords should I include?

There’s no specific number as such. You may include as many resume keywords as you wish provided that you’re qualified to use them, they add value to your profile, and they are related. Prioritize natural variations overstuffing keywords.

Create your resume with the best templates

Create your resume in 15 minutes

Our free collection of expertly designed cover letter templates will help you stand out from the crowd and get one step closer to your dream job.

Create your resume