How to use correct resume keywords?

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

You are technically playing it, but it's never going to work.

You can fill your resume with plain words. Sure, that's not the problem.

But can you transform it into music? Can you turn it into something that will compel the recruiters to give you a callback?

The key to achieving this is through resume keywords.

Since the majority of recruiters now use the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen candidates for job profiles, using resume keywords helps your resume rank high in the ATS and get noticed by the recruiters.

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is software that recruiters use to identify the particular keyword to eliminate resumes that are missing them.

The best resume keywords are those that correspond to the requirements listed in the target job description.

They could be skills, experiences, credentials, and even qualities that a recruiter is looking for in a candidate.

Read on to learn more about resume keywords and other related FAQs like the following:

What Are Resume Action Verbs and Resume Keywords?

If the JD specifies 'Masters in Business Administration and you wrote 'MBA' in your resume keywords, will that make a difference?

Here's how the ATS Works:

  1. Recruiter enters best keywords for resumes that are scanned by the ATS resume checker for particular job openings
  2. Applicants submit resumes for job
  3. ATS scans these resumes for relevant keywords
  4. ATS then sorts and grades resumes based on these resume keywords
  5. According to the score, the hiring manager decides on the applicant's capability before personally getting in touch

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

And while MBA and Masters in Business Administration are the same things, you must be careful to use the exact wording from the JD.

Meaning, that if the recruiters have written MBA as a requirement, ensure that your resume lists MBA and not Masters in Business Administration under your education.

Keywords vs. Action Verbs

Keywords are used to make sure an application is coherent with an available job.

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

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 an 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.

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

2) Company Values

To demonstrate your familiarity with 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" you must consider including this verb in your resume.

3) Popular Skill Words

A few soft skills and qualities are quintessential to the job profile and listing these soft skills in your resume can help you stand out to the recruiters.

These skill words are universal. For example, employers prefer employees who are "detail-oriented" over, say, 'dedicated'.

HIRATION PRO-TIP: Some companies update their list of 'banned keywords' frequently. These lists typically include examples like "hardworking" or "team player". Be careful as they can lower your ATS rank.

4) Best Keywords for Resume

Resume Keywords can also be words that correspond to required skills from the job listing itself.

Including these resume keywords will give you an edge over the other candidates 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 Development

Accurate usage of this jargon showcases the knowledge and possible possession of necessary hard skills. However, make sure you research your industry resume keywords before using them in your resume.

Also read: What are some action or power verbs that you can add to your resume in 2022?

Why Use Resume Keywords?

Resume keywords are used for the following reasons:

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

  • Resume keywords can be easily tracked by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS resume checker) which helps screen applications by scoring them based on their keyword usage.

  • Certain resume keywords can reflect a firm and impressive personality of yourself. The following words are often used to stand out to the hiring manager:

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 keywords increase your chances of bypassing the ATS resume test and having your application read.

Also read: Which resume tense must you use in 2022?

How to Use Your Necessary Resume Keywords

To benefit from the use of resume keywords, find the best keywords for the resume from the job description.

To find buzzwords:

  1. Find job listings that match your skills and qualifications
  2. Analyze the job description to identify words that are used repetitively. Those 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 in your resume.

As stated before, you can also check out the company website to identify resume keywords that you can incorporate into your resume.

If the company identifies itself as "creative", you can incorporate that word into your resume to describe yourself.

Just like how websites use the right SEO keywords to rank high in Google and other search engines, you must use the right resume keywords to rank high in ATS.

The following tips will help you optimize your resume with keywords:

Use the Job Ad as Your Guide

The job description is the first place to find resume keywords to use in your resume keywords section to tailor your resume keywords to a specific job. If they are looking for an experienced professional to manage their sales pipeline, try to use the phrase "managed sales pipeline" if you've done so in the past.

Be Specific

Include closely related resume keywords. The more focused you are on your keywords, the better are your chances of getting selected for the next round.

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 keywords like industry buzzwords, hard skills, soft skills, certifications, etc. Writing a variety of best keywords for your resume will demonstrate your diverse proficiency.

Include Resume Keywords Across the Resume

Use resume keywords throughout your resume instead of using them only in the skills section. Add resume keywords to your resume summary statement, past job descriptions, and the skills section of your resume.

Use them Stratigically

Do not showcase yourself as an over-achiever or cram too many keywords in your resume because a human recruiter will grade your resume once it gets past the computer. So use your resume keywords thoughtfully.

Provide Context

Refrain from merely grouping all of your keywords in your resume in a list.

Always make sure to provide context. Use your resume keywords as a lead to achievement.

For example, "Leveraged social media sales to effectively increase followers by 1,00,000"

Check your Spelling

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

Also read: What is the importance of writing a good job description in 2022?

Where to use Resume Keywords

Resume Keywords are the most important part of the text in your resume. But where do you place these keywords in a resume? There are indefinite possibilities.

As stated before, you must disperse resume keywords across your resume.

You do not need a separate keyword section.

Instead, you must sprinkle resume keywords throughout all the sections of your resume.

Profile Title

Using the keyword from the job title mentioned in the target job description verifies that you are looking for a particular job.

While writing the professional title in your resume use the exact job title if you have the experience to qualify for it and be specific.

Here are some examples of Professional Resume Keywords Titles:

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

Also read: How to write a resume title?


A professional summary is one of the first things the recruiter or employer will read when reviewing your resume and in many cases, they make their decision based on it.

Consider your 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.

Summarize your USP (unique selling point) that makes you perfect for the job and add appropriate resume keywords in this section.

Also read: How to write an exceptional resume summary?

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 the recruiters have listed course works in the job listing, use them as resume keywords and add them under your education section to increase your chances of being a preferred candidate.

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

To maintain optimum usage of resume keywords in your education section follow the listed pointers:

  • 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 example, use "M.A." instead of "MA"
  • Always write the name of your major. For example, "M.A. in 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

Also read: How to list education on resume?

Skills Section

Since most of the keywords are generally skills adding resume keywords in your skills section makes sense.

There are three types of skills keywords:

Credential/Experience Keywords

Experience keywords emphasize the key skills for the industry or your target job profile.

For instance, an SEO writer would use resume keywords relating to the certifications he or she has earned for technical writing or SEO management.

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

You can identify these resume keywords for your target job profile by going through the "Occupational Outlook Handbook" by The Bureau of Labor Statistics or by 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".

You can pick these soft skill keywords from the company website and the job description.

Action Keywords

The action verbs you use to showcase your past or current work experiences are resume keywords.

Action verbs like the following can be resume keywords:

  • Balanced the budget
  • Integrated Payment Gateway
  • Managed backend operations
  • Achieved sales of USD 1.3M

Also read: What skills should you put in your resume?

Who should use Resume Keywords

Since most employers deploy ATS to do the primary screening, it is very important to add resume keywords if you want to get shortlisted.

Resume keywords not only make your resume ATS-friendly but also adds value to your candidacy.

Without the right keywords, it is extremely difficult and almost impossible to secure an interview.

Remember, while you may have to bypass the ATS at first, your resume will be further inspected by a human so place your resume keywords strategically.

Best Keywords for Resume Based on Industry

The following list shows specific keyword examples based on different industries:

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 resume keywords 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
Coordination Datasheets
Office Management Team Management


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


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

Relationship Management Patience Adaptability Customer Tracking System
Customer Retention Customer Loyalty Customer Database Customer Surveys
Telemarketing Order Processing Response Time Sales Support


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

Also read: How to write a stellar marketing head resume?

Key Takeaways

  • Scrutinize the job description to identify resume keywords.
  • Search social media sites, such as LinkedIn and official company websites to pick keywords you can identify with and include them in your resume.
  • Read magazines and popular websites of your target industry to gather the buzzwords.
  • Do not use acronyms. Write full form of everything so that your resume keywords get scanned by ATS.
  • Include the same keywords in your online profile, applications, and cover letter.
  • Do not overuse resume keywords and limit them to only the significant ones.
  • Sprinkle resume keywords throughout your resume as opposed to limiting it to a single section.

If you need expert assistance, visit Hiration's Career Activator Platform with 24x7 chat support and write to us at

Build your resume in 10 minutes
Use the power of AI & HR approved resume examples and templates to build professional, interview ready resumes
Create My Resume
out of 5 on