A resume without resume keywords is like playing the musical notes on an instrument alphabetically.

You are technically playing it, but we both know you are kidding yourself.

You can fill the resume with... words. Sure, that's not the problem. But can you transform it into music? Can you turn it into something that will make the reader feel something?

How do you do that? Resume keywords.

Keywords are the specific words that correspond to the requirements that are mentioned in the target job description. They could be skills, experiences, credentials and even qualities that a recruiter is looking for in a candidate.

Recruiters scans every resume for such resume keywords. Talent management systems like the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are also employed by many companies to screen candidates for job profiles. Therefore, using the key words in your resume not only shows what you have accomplished during your prior work tenure but they also help your resume get selected by the software.

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a software that recruiters use to identify particular key word to eliminate resumes which are missing them. Therefore, embedding keywords in your resume is the first step to fit the requirements of the position.

Here's how the ATS works:

  1. Recruiter enters keywords for the ATS to look for in particular job openings.
  2. Applicants submit resumes for job.
  3. ATS scans these resumes for keywords at appropriate places.
  4. ATS sorts and grades resumes based on these resume keywords.
  5. According to score, hiring manager decides on applicant's capability before personally getting in touch.

If the JD specifies 'Masters in Business Administration' and you wrote 'MBA' in your resume, will that make a difference? Keep reading to best understand how to bypass the ATS elimination round with the most optimum use of resume keywords.

What Are Resume Action Verbs and Resume Keywords?

Resume keywords are:

  • for candidates, the words they use to search for available positions.
  • for recruiters, the key words to screen resumes to find target applicants.

Keywords can be of different types. Resume keywords can describe your skills and qualifications. They can also describe your hard/specific skills that qualify you for a specific position.

Keywords vs. Action Verbs

Keywords are used to makes sure an application is coherent with an available job. The closer the resume keywords in a resume are to the ones in a job description, the better a candidate stands a chance of being selected for an interview.

Action verbs, on the other hand, show your ability to succeed. For example, words like accomplished, developed, managed, and handled describe what you have achieved.

Types of Resume Keywords

Resume keywords should essentially comprise specific job requirements which include:

  • your skills
  • competencies
  • relevant credentials
  • previous positions and employers.

Resume keywords could be of the following types:

1) Action Verbs

One variety of resume keywords is action verb. Action verbs are used at the beginning of a sentence in your work profile or qualifications section to showcase your ability to succeed at undertaking any responsibility. These words showcase that you can achieve success using your skills as you have in previous work profile.

Examples of action verbs include "achieved", "initiated", "supervised", etc.

2) Company Values

To demonstrate your familiarity to the company, use words that are coherent with the company's description of itself. These words are mainly available in the "About Us" section of the company, or in the job description itself.

For example, if the company identifies itself as "innovative" one power word you might incorporate into your resume is "innovate" or "innovative"

3) Popular Skill Words

A few soft skills and qualities are quintessential to most applicants and many recruiters are pleased to see them in the resume. These skill words are universal. For example, employers prefer employees who are "detail-oriented" over, say, 'dedicated'.

HIRATION PROTIP: Some companies update their list of 'banned keywords' frequently. These lists typically include examples like "hardworking" or "teamplayer". Be careful as they can lower your ATS score.

4) Keywords

Resume Keywords can also be words that correspond to definite required skills from the job listing itself. Implementing these words in your resume will give you an edge over the other resume as they directly demonstrate your fit into the position. Such keywords usually include "programmed", "designed", "trained", etc.

5) Industry Buzzwords and Jargon.

Many industries are keyword specific. An important example of such an industry is the IT industry. A few common resume keywords used in the IT industry are:

  • Program management
  • Systems administration
  • Management Information System
  • Analytics
  • Privacy policy
  • Database integration
  • Database administration
  • Change management
  • Research and development

Accurate usage of these jargons showcases knowledge and possible possession of necessary hard skills. However, make sure you research your industry keywords before using them in your resume to prevent misuse.

Why Use Resume Keywords?

Keywords are used for extensive reasons.

  • Recruiters use them to make the process of perusing through resumes simpler, owing to the high volumes they receive. Resume eywords helps in highlighting necessary skills and qualifications through the page.

  • Since most of your resume can be repetitive keywords can help set your resume apart from the rest of the candidates.

  • Resume keywords can be easily tracked by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which help screen applications by scoring them according to keywords. An ATS also eliminates resumes that are missing important keywords.

  • Certain resume keywords can reflect a firm and impressive personality of yourself. Words such as the following are often used for the benefit of standing out to the hiring manager. For example:

Guaranteed – gives your recruiter a sense of security that they would not lose anything with you.

Powerful – represents yourself as a robust person who stands ahead of your competitors.

These key words increase your chances of bypassing the ATS and having your application read.

How to Use Your Necessary Resume Keywords

To benefit most from the use of resume keywords, find the right keywords from the job description. To find buzzwords:

  1. Research job listings that match your target job profile.
  2. The words that recur in most job listings are the buzzwords that you are looking for.

These terms can often be found in specific sections, like "necessary qualifications" and "responsibilities", of the job listing. Incorporate these keywords into your resume.

You might also check out the company website for possible keywords to incorporate in your resume. To demonstrate your familiarity with the company or the industry, use keywords that the company uses in their "About Us" section or in the company's job listing. For example, if the company identifies itself as "creative", you could incorporate that word into your resume to describe yourself.

Just like a smart website use the right SEOs to enable people to find them on search engines, smart applicants use the right resume keywords to enable increased access by recruiters.

Tips for Using Keywords in Your Resume

Recruiters and the ATS software processes and sorts resumes to find their necessary applicants. So how do you know what resume keywords to use?

the following tips will help you revamp your resume to get selected.

Use the job ad as your guide

The job description is the first place to find resume keywords to use in your resume to tailor your resume to a specific job If they are looking for an experienced professional to manage their sales pipeline, try to use the phrase "manages a sales pipeline" as long as you have done it.

Be specific

Include closely related resume keywords. The more focused you are with your keywords, better are your chances of getting selected for the next procedure. Recruiters want exact information about what you have done.Exclude broad words like "marketing" and "accounting" and use specific ones like "market researcher" or "digital media recruiter".

Mix it up

Write a mix of different kinds of resume keyword like industry buzzwords, hard skills, soft skills, certifications, etc. Writing a variety of different keywords will demonstrate your diverse proficiency.

Include keywords across the resume

Use keywords throughout your resume instead of using them only in the skills section. Add your resume keywords to your current and target job titles, location, profile summary and experience.

To enable your employer or ATS to easily find your resume keywords, use them across your resume. Try incorporating them mainly into your resume summary statement, past job descriptions, the skills section of your resume.

Use a lot of keywords

Ensure that you have included most of the keywords that are relevant to the profile you are targeting. But do not write the skills which you don't posess, write only those that you have. Write as many keywords form the job description as you can so that you are able to pass the ATS test.

Do not use them limitlessly

Do not showcase yourself as an over-achiever. Do not cram as many keywords as possible into your resume. A human recruiter will grade your resume once it gets past the computer. So use your resume keywords thoughtfully.

Use keywords in context

The above point gives way to this one. Refrain from merely grouping all of your resumme keywords into a list. Always make sure to provide context. Use your resume keywords as a lead to an achievement. For example, "Leveraged social media sales to effectively increase followers by 1,00,000"

Check your spelling

The ATS is spelling sensitive. So double check all your spellings before you submit your application.

Where to use Resume Keywords

Keywords are the most important part of the text in your resume. It serves as the fine line between getting a chance at an interview. But where do you put the keywords in your resume? There are indefinite possibilities.

As you learned from the tips, you can and you should disperse keywords across your resume. You do not need a separate keyword section. In fact, you can put keywords in your target job profile in your introduction or in your professional summary. You can use resume keywords in all choices of format - be it reverse chronological or functional or combinational.

Beginning your resume with keywords is usually a good idea as it instantly catches the recruiter's eyes. It represents the industry specific language that immediately grabs the attention of the hiring manager. Therefore beginning with resume keywords in your professional resume section is an intuitive approach.

In your Professional Resume Title

Using the keyword from the job title mentioned in the target job description verifies that you are definitely looking for the particular job. While writing the professional title in your resume use the job title if you have the experience that qualifies you for it. This reduces any possible confusion.

However, refrain from using generalized resume keywords such as "Marketing" or "Engineering" as they reflect vaguue meanings. Be as specific as possible.

Examples of Professional Resume Titles Using Job Keywords

Correct Incorrect
Digital Marketing Manager Marketing
Electrical Engineer, Mechanical Engineering Engineer, Automotive
Global Business Graduate, MBA Scholar Student, Graduate
Web Designer, Creative Director UI/UX, Designer, Director, Creative

In your Professional Summary Using Job Keywords

A professional summary is one of the first things the recruiter or employer will read when reviewing your job resume application and in most of the cases their decision is made already after reading it.

Consider your professional summary as an elevator pitch where you have to convince the potential employer in less than 5-7 seconds why you are the perfect fit for their opening and what will be their advantages of hiring you.

The first step is to identify your final goal, which in this case is to get the job you are applying for. Then you will need to summarize what you are doing and the USP (unique selling point) that makes you the perfect future employer.

Examples of Professional Summaries Using Job Keywords and Action Words

Correct Incorrect
~10 years of project management experience in medical Manager working with various projects in the
alliance and product testing before direct rollout medical industry which completed multiple
of new products. projects.

In the Resume Education Section

Always include your major instead of only stating the degree. For example, instead of enlisting "M.B.A.", you should write "M.B.A. in Marketing". If there are listed course works in the job listing, use them as resume keywords which could increase your as a preferred candidate.

Always put your highest degree first. Follow the reverse-chronological order to state all your degrees. However, do not include your high school majors in case you have elaborate work experience.

HIRATION PRO TIP: If you have finished college, we recommended you do not include your high school information.

The information that must be added on your resume education section is:

  • Type of degree you received
  • Your major/minor
  • Name of your institution
  • One line description of your institution
  • Location of your institution (Area,Country)
  • Year of graduation

Try to align your college location and year of graduation on the same line to the left and right of the page respectively. You should only add your GPA as long as you have a decent score.

To maintain optimum use of resume keywords in your education section:

  • Spell your degree. For example, use "Master of Arts", instead of "M.A."
  • If at all you must use initials, separate them using periods. For examples, use "M.A." instead of "MA"
  • Always write the name of your major. For example, use "M.A. in English". You may also separate your degree from your major with a comma. For example, "M.A., English"
  • In case your degree is not directly related to the target job profile, focus more on the university than on the course.
  • Maintain a consistent format for all the entries.

In the Resume Skills Section

For the experiences you cannot quantify, add the skills that you exhibited during performance. List relevant skills to showcase your skill set that is relevant to the industry.

The resusme keywords that describe your skills get tracked by the ATS. It is not always about the quantity of keywords either but the quality of the keywords you use. Always make sure that the the keywords you choose are significant to the target jobs.

There are three types of skills keywords.

Credential / Experience keywords

Experience keywords emphasizes the key skills for the industry or your target job profile. An SEO writer would use resume keywords relating to the certifications he or she has earned in courses of technical writing or SEO management. A fashion designer would use resume keywords relating to the certifications he or she has earned in fashion technologies.

These skills keywords are known as "hard skills". They directly correspond to the industry. They include job titles, buzzwords and skills typically recognized by the industry, etc.

You can identify your desired keywords for your target job profile by either perusing through "Occupational Outlook Handbook" by The Bureau of Labor Statistics or searching for jobs or other workers in the same work profile to see what they have used.

General skills keywords

These resume keywords are not industry specific. Typically they include "computer skills", "management", "multitasking, "communication skills", "organizational skills", "leadership". These keywords are referred to are "soft skills" and are mainly meant to interest the recruiter in your profile.

Computer skills is the most important resume keyword and skill that reflect your acquaintance with the age of technology. In this section you are allowed to boast about yourself, but make sure to represent your skills honestly and refrain from claiming the possession of skills that you might not have.

Keywords showing you in action

The action verbs you use to showcase your accomplishments in your previous or current work profiles are the resume keywords that attract the recruiter. Action verbs portray you effectively doing the job.

For example mention that you:
"Balanced" the budget
"Integrated" Payment Gateway
"Managed" backend operations
"Achieved" sales of USD 1.3 M

Avoid overusing action verbs. "Accelerated", "Streamlined" are among the few overused words.

Who should use Resume Keywords

Since most employers deploy ATS to do the primary screening, it is very important that every applicant tries to engage as many keywords as possible. If the entire screening process is escalated by a human recruiter, he or she shall also scan the resume for keywords. Resume Keywords, therefore give a thorough review of your personality. Without the right keywords, it is difficult to secure an interview. In fact it stands high chances of rejection.

For applicant with good records, "Track record of success" or "Team player" can be redundant. The same idea can be expressed using different words that imply the same meaning. Quantify your records and provide examples. Express your commitment.

Remember, while you may have to bypass the ATS first, you shall be further inspected by a human decision maker. So keep your resume focused on making the right impression by using only significant keywords.

Keywords for your industry

Keywords are the words that prove your fitting for the job. These resume keywords particular to the job descriptions could be used particularly to bypass the applicant tracking systems used by recruiting companies. The following list contains extensive action keywords for specific job profiles:

Executive Resume Keywords

Strategic P&L, Profit & Loss Responsibility Growth, Revenue, Profit ROI
Metrics Change Management Change Transition Dollars Raised
Leadership Operations Management Budgeting & Finance
Performance Improvement Stakeholders Risk Management Strategic Partnerships

Marketing Resume Keywords

Marketing Research
Google Analytics
Social Media Management
Brand Promotion
Advertising Campaigns
Product Launches
Customer Relations
Team Management
Leadership & Training

Information Technology

Product Development Backend Development API Integration API Development
Server Management & Optimization Deployment Architecture Design Automation
Team Management Software Development Unit Testing Agile Methodology
Code Optimization Troubleshooting Automation Firewall

IT Resumes are also expected to contain direct technical skills like

Languages: Python, Java, Nodejs, HTML, CSS, JavaScript
Frameworks: Codeigniter, YII, Drupal, Spring, Flask
OS: Windows, Linux
Software: Apache, Nginx
Database: MySQL, MongoDB, Neo4J


Calendar Management
Communication Management
Office Management
Team Management


Business Operations
Process Improvement
Vendor Management
Lean Principles
Quality Tools
Process Re-Engineering
Change Management
Multi Site Operations
Six Sigma
Reverse Logistics
Route Optimization


For example, based on experience, a candidate for a management position might use the following resume keywords:

Bottom-Line Focused Business Analysis Business Development Goal Setting
Contract Negotiation Corporate Accountability Corporate Strategizing Budget Control
Customer Relations Financial Management Data Analysis Conflict Resolution

Customer service

The keywords of a customer service representative could include:

Relationship Management Patience Adaptability Customer tracking system
Customer retention Customer Loyalty Customer Database Customer Surveys
Telemarketing Order processing Response time Sales Support


The keywords of a marketing associate or executive could include:

Market Research Strategic Marketing Plans Product Launch Advertising Campaigns
Public Relations Event marketing Social Media Pricing Strategies
Distribution Channels Budgets & Forecasting C-Level Presentations Competitive Analysis

Key Takeways

Find Appropriate Keywords to use.

To find the most appropriate keywords, review the following:

  • Job Descriptions: First, see the type of position written in the job description, then scrutinize the job description and copy the job title.
  • Social Media Websites: Search social media sites, such as LinkedIn, or online sites of your target profile to review similar keyword that reflect your profile and personality.
  • Industry Magazines and Websites: Read magazines and popular websites of your target industry to gather the buzzwords.

Additional tips for using resume keywords.

  • Do not use acronyms. Write full form of everything so that your resume gets past the ATS test and also, the recruiter is able to understand it.
  • Include the same keywords in yur online profile, applications and cover letter.
  • Write all the keywords related to your current and past job profiles.
  • Do not over write the keywords. Limit your resume keywords to most significant resume keywords in the most significant places.
  • Use standard resume formats. Use techniques like: quantify your achievements, start your sentences with active verbs and lastly proof read your resume befor you send it somewhere.