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.
What is the Role of Keywords on Your Resume?
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.
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):
We are looking for a person who is forward-looking, creative, meme-loving, data-driven, and who dares to break boundaries. The candidate will be given the opportunity to manage the marketing of the company and must have a strong command of the industry’s best practices in social media marketing. More importantly, the individual must be able to effectively build and engage a digital audience.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Frame up and synthesize quantitative and qualitative data to support planning, marketing strategy and respond to marketing opportunities/ challenges
- Lead insights-driven planning and marketing programs by working with global partnerships to deliver our objectives and goals.
- Analyze the company’s target market and provide effective suggestions for formulating marketing plans
- Build go-to-market strategies using storytelling across marketing campaigns
- Support growth of the company through the development and management of sustained awareness and education programs aimed at internal and external audiences in partnership with research, marketing, and sales
- Full responsibility for brand management and corporate identity
- 5 years of marketing experience
- Knowledge of DeFi and blockchain space is a bonus
- Experience in developing marketing programs and campaigns
- Proven experience overseeing ideas from inception to launch
- Deep insights, analytics, and digital marketing skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to influence, inspire, and have open and sometimes, hard conversations
- Experience building strong, effective cross-functional working relationships in medium to large organizations
- Ability to manage ambiguity and thrive in a highly dynamic environment
- Eye for detail, resourcefulness, initiative, and creativity
- Understanding of Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop)
- General knowledge of branding, layout, color theory (aspects of branding design)
- Self-motivation and driven, with a goal-oriented mindset
- Ability to work under pressure and tight deadlines
- A team player
- Fluency & proficiency in English (Both written and spoken)
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.
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.
Google the position you’re applying for – you’ll find plenty of keywords, job descriptions, job advertisements, and forums where people discussed the topic.
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
- 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:
+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)
Primary keywords: CDL-A/ CDL-A Certified, CDL-A Licensed, heavy vehicle, long-distance
Secondary 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.
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
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
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
- Molecular biology
- Human anatomy
Secondary keywords: clinical procedures, human biology, disease process, genetics, molecular biology, human anatomy
Example 02: Education section for a secretary resume
Columbia University, NY
- Business strategy
- Management accounting
- Management reporting
Diploma in IT, 2018-2019
Institute of Information Technology, NY
- Microsoft office suite
- Database management
Secondary keywords: business administration, database management, management accounting, management reporting, business strategy
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.
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|
Sample Administrative Assistant Skills Resume
Sample Resume for Secretary
How 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|
|specifications||quantitative analysis||sustainability||energy efficiency||circuits|
|MCBs||installation||system design||failure analysis||virtual reality|
|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|
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Chemical Engineer Resume
Electrical Engineer Resume
Keywords for healthcare jobs: nurses, doctors, physician assistants
|Ambulance||acute care||chronic care||continuity care||counseling|
|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. Resume
Write a Physician Assistant Resume Clinically
Nursing Management Resumes
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|
|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|
Sample Resume Customer Service Representative
Cashier Resume Examples
Restaurant Manager Resume Example
Sample Hostess 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|
|layout||media, print||video editing||photo editing||retouching|
|mockups||3D design||logo creation||social media posts||canva|
Check out these complete resume examples:
Keywords for sales and marketing positions
|Brand management||advertising||ad buying||campaign management||social media marketing|
|social media advertising||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|
Marketing Manager Resume Examples
Public Relations Resume Example
Digital Marketing Resume
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Keywords for IT professionals: Software engineering, data analytics
|System design||architecture||artificial intelligence (AI)||user interface (UI)||user experience (UX)|
|Java||C++||Database management||network administration||system configuration|
|WAN||LAN||remote access||security breach||project management|
|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|
Business Analyst Resume Samples
Data Analyst Resume Samples
Sample IT Project Manager Resume
Software Developer Resume Sample
Keywords for managerial positions
|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|
Example Resume Project Manager
Sample General Manager Resumes
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|
|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|
Supply chain manager
Keywords for accounting and finance positions
|Current assets||fixed assets||current liabilities||balance sheet||profit/loss statement|
|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|
Most Effective Finance Resume Example
Sample Resume for Financial Analyst
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.
|people skills||team player||attention to detail|
|willingness to learn||problem-solving||ability to work under pressure|
|teamwork||organizational skills||interpersonal skills|
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.