by Lisa McGrimmon
Find resume key words specific to your industry so you can write impressive, targeted resumes that get you invited to job interviews.
Whether you are writing a traditional paper copy resume or some type of electronic resume, your resume is more likely to catch the employer's attention if you make a point of including important industry buzz words.
If you don't know what the key words and phrases are in your industry, there are some simple ways to find out.
1. Check the Job Ad
If you are applying to an advertised job, the job ad is the first place you should look for resume key words.
Employers typically list the most crucial skills and qualifications required for the job on a job ad, and when they are scanning resumes (either manually or electronically) they will normally be looking for words that indicate that you have those skills and qualifications.
If you are applying to an advertised job, review the ad and highlight any important terms that are used in the ad. Be sure to include any of those words and phrases that apply to you on your resume.
2. Check Ads for Similar Jobs
Start a collection of job ads for the type of work you are seeking. Review each ad and highlight any important words or phrases. Compile a list of all of the words and phrases that are included in those ads.
If you have a particularly long list of words and phrases, you could even note which words are used most frequently in order to ensure you mention the most commonly requested skills and qualifications on your resume.
3. Use Variations of Key Words
Be sure to use common variations of key words or phrases on your resume so your resume won't get missed if the employer scans electronically for a variation of the word or phrase.
For example, if your resume states that you have a Master of Business Administration degree, but the employer uses resume scanning software to find resumes with the acronym MBA, your resume will not be found even though you have the qualification the employer wants. Therefore, you must include both MBA and Master of Business Administration on your resume in order to cover off searches for each common variation of that qualification.
4. Visit the Company Website
You can often get clues about the types of key words an employer may look for visiting the company's website. A company's site can sometimes give you insight into the soft and hard skills the company values in its employees.
Check the company's mission or vision statement. Often the mission or vision statement will give you some insight into the kind of values the company holds at the core of its business.
Spend some time thinking about how your skills, experience and work values would contribute to that mission and mention those skills and experiences on your resume.
Be a bit subtle about this strategy. Do not rewrite the company's mission statement word for word on your resume. Instead, pick out a few key concepts that you identify with and think of ways to demonstrate those concepts on your resume.
5. Check Government Resources
Government resources like O*Net in the U.S. or the NOC in Canada provide you with in-depth job descriptions and skill requirements. Theses lists of job requirements can also give you some insights into the resume key words an employer may use to sort through a database of resumes.
6. Be Sure to Include Nouns
You've probably heard a lot about including strong verbs on your resume, which is important for the human reader, but not many people talk about the importance of nouns.
When employers electronically scan resumes, they typically search for resume key words that are nouns. Including industry appropriate nouns on your resume is crucial because it helps to ensure your resume will be found when it is sorted by software rather than a human.
The nouns employers typically search for reflect the hard and soft skills required to do the job effectively. These might include specific software programs or other technical skills, required certifications, specific product and/or company names and other industry jargon.
When employers review resumes manually...
When employers sort through resumes manually, they scan each resume very quickly. They are often trying to assess whether you have the basic qualifications to do the job. To that end, their minds are often focused on finding certain key terms.
If employers don't find those terms on your resume, they probably won't take the time to read your resume in more depth.
When employers scan resumes electronically...
When employers retrieve online resumes or search through a database of resumes in their own system, they enter resume key words into software that will allow them to sort through a large database of resumes to find appropriate job candidates.
The more closely the words on your resume match with the words and phrases the employer searches for, the higher your resume will rank in the employer's search results. Therefore, it is crucial to anticipate the types of words an employer will use when searching through resumes.
You probably won't be able to predict with 100% accuracy which words an employer will use when searching through a resume database, but if you use these strategies, you will predict several of the most important resume key words in your industry, an that will will go a long way to getting you invited for a job interview.