How Resume Keywords Help You Land Job Interviews (Plus List of Top Keywords for Each Industry)

9 min read

It’s your shopping day yesterday. You’re roaming around at the grocery store with the list of shopping items you’ve prepared to buy. While checking for a group of products, there’s this one item that caught your attention. You picked the item and started reading the label. In an instant, you decided to add the product to your cart and purchase it. Why? Was it because of the benefits? The packaging? Or the price? Whatever the reason is, that product stood out among other items that made you purchase it—and this should be the same when you submit your resume to apply for jobs.

Aside from resume format and layout, you should also pay attention to one of the factors you should consider when crafting your job application tool: the resume keywords. These elements must work hand-in-hand to effectively produce an eye-catching document and obtain the hiring manager’s positive response.

In this article, we’ll focus on resume keywords. We’ll share with you how important resume keywords are, as well as tips on how to choose and use the right keywords in your resume. Plus, we’ll provide you with a list top resume keywords for each profession and industry to help you with your job search. Let’s dive in.

What are Resume Keywords?

Basically, resume keywords are job-related or industry-specific words and phrases outlined in job postings that should match with your job search tool in order to receive job interview invites. These terms play a key role in describing and highlighting your skills and abilities, qualifications, expertise, and credentials hiring managers are looking for in a candidate.

Through resume keywords, employers can immediately determine and assess whether you are qualified for the position or not. Hence, using the right keywords in your resume helps you outshine other job applicants and—eventually—land your dream job.

Importance of Resume Keywords

In today’s hiring and recruitment processes, most companies including 75% of large corporations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen a large volume of job candidates. This system assists hiring managers in gathering applicant information, as well as filtering hopefuls based on experience, qualifications, and skills. Furthermore, it allows employers to plug in a list of keywords and other criteria to sort job applications. Thus, spreading resume keywords wisely all throughout your job application document is crucial for you to beat the bots and secure job interviews.

On the other hand, there are companies that don’t rely on ATS. Despite their traditional hiring process, resume keywords are still vital for you to stand out in a pool of job candidates. Using human eyes, hiring managers spend an average of six seconds reviewing an applicant’s resume. Within that short span of time, you should be able to grab their attention to elicit a positive response and get your resume to the pile of accepted applications. Otherwise, your resume might get shredded in a split second and thrown in the trash bin if resume keywords are not used properly and strategically.

Related Post: Here’s How You Can Pass the Applicant Tracking System

Young Job Seeker Writing Her Resume

Tips in Selecting the Right Resume Keywords

While there are hundreds and thousands of keywords available online, it’s still important that you carefully think and choose the right keywords to use in your resume. Doing so can help your resume get noticed by recruiters and pass the ATS; or else, you might miss out on the job opportunity due to improper selection of resume keywords.

To help you select the right keywords, we’ve listed several tips you should heed.

1. Review the job posting for qualifications, skills, and experience employers are looking for in a candidate.

First things first: Thoroughly read the job ad to identify which keywords must be included on your resume. The criteria for the suitable candidate are usually stated in the first paragraph of each job post. Make sure to highlight all the resume keywords you think recruiters are looking for as you review the job posting. These keywords are sprinkled in the qualifications and job descriptions portions.

2. Assess several job listings with similar job position.

Aside from the job posting of your target company, searching for multiple job advertisements with the same job title is another method to determine the right resume keywords. Browse through the job listings, spot the most popular keywords used, and scatter them in your job application tool.

Pro Tip: You may use a word-cloud generator to analyze and rank keywords for your resume. All you have to do is copy and paste the job ad into the system, then it will show you the frequently mentioned words. You’ll determine the number of times each word appears in the job post as they are listed beside the terms.

3. Analyze the skills and experience of mid- to top-level management positions.

You may also examine the job ads for higher-level positions the same way you review the job posting for your target position. Afterwards, incorporate the common skills you could bring to the table. This well help you stand out among other job applicants who don’t have the same skill sets and expertise.

4. Check the company’s website.

On your target company’s website, you can find more keywords that reflect their brand and ideals. These keywords will help you showcase that you are a perfect fit for their organization.

How to Use Keywords on Your Resume

Take note that although resume keywords are essential in landing job interviews, stuffing or misusing them in your application document can kill your chances of succeeding in your job search. But don’t worry; we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to properly use keywords on your resume shared by our professional resume writers. Read on.

1. Apply keyword variations.

Putting synonyms, acronyms, abbreviations, and a variety of such words on your document is vital in boosting the chances of getting your resume scanned and picked by ATS. For example, if a hiring manager is looking for sales representative candidates, your resume must contain multiple terms related to sales representative position, including the job titles and skills necessary for the job. That said; it’s crucial that applicants should be familiar with industry jargons to have a wide range of word choice.

Meanwhile, the ATS does not detect common acronyms and abbreviations automatically, unless the recruiter plugged in such terms. Hence, it’s better to use the spelled-out form and the abbreviation or acronym to account for both terms.

2. Mention location-based keywords.

Although some job applicants are concerned about their privacy, it’s still pertinent to include the city, town, and state on the resume. Employers also use locations as keywords on ATS to look for candidates, especially if it’s for a local position. If your target job, let’s say senior accountant, is located in California, then the hiring manager will likely use the key phrases ‘senior accountant’ and ‘California’ in ATS. This way, only applications containing both keywords will reach the hiring manager’s eyes.

3. Emphasize industry-specific skills over soft skills.

While soft skills are worth mentioning in your job application tool, using hard skills as your resume keywords could increase your chances of getting noticed by employers and their ATS. Take note that most of the hiring managers will prioritize candidates with such skills over job seekers who have little to no knowledge of the position. Plus, ATS will rank your resume higher if there are keywords pertaining to related skills.

Aside from your resume, you may also apply these tips on your cover letter. Some employers require applicants to submit both resume and cover letter as part of their hiring process. Doing so will help you showcase that you’re a highly qualified candidate for the job.

Note: You may check how our professional resume writers strategically used a variety of resume keywords through our compilation of resume examples.

Job Seeker Reviewing Resume Keywords On Her Resume

Where to Put Keywords on Your Resume

Now that you have an idea on how to choose and use the right resume keywords, we’ll now answer the question, “Where should I put keywords on my resume?” Continue reading.

Specific Target Job Position

Right after your personal and contact information, don’t forget to write your specific target job title. This way, hiring managers will immediately identify what position you’re applying for.

Resume Summary Section

Also known as the profile section, this is an avenue where you can summarize your qualities as an individual and professional as well as your skills and expertise in the field. By including resume keywords in this area, you can easily catch the hiring manager’s attention. Plus, it can be detected by the ATS right away.

Related Post: Resume Title Examples and Tips in Writing a Striking Resume Headline

Resume Skills Section

Use this portion to underscore your soft and hard skills, including your technical skills. Make sure that your entries are matched with the job posting.

Pro Tip: You may present and categorize your entries using job skills headings. Hiring managers will have an impression that you are a highly organized person.

Work Experience Section

Placing resume keywords in this area allows you to showcase that you have the qualities and experience hiring managers are looking for based on what the job requires. Not only that; you can also highlight your accomplishments and notable contributions using the right resume keywords.

Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Resume with No Work Experience

Education Section

Present your educational background the same way how it’s listed on the job posting. If the degree is written as ‘BA’ or ‘BS,’ then have your degree listed as it is. Further, don’t forget to include your course title.

Training and Certification Section

Most of the job ads include training and certification as part of the qualifications. Hence, if you’ve received such training, licenses, and certifications, make sure to include them.

Words You Need to Avoid on Your Resume

While there are a lot of keywords to use in a resume that can impress hiring managers and beat the ATS, there are also resume buzzwords that you must leave off.

Characteristics You Must Already Possess and No Longer Need Mentioning

  • Hardworking
  • Capable
  • Organized
  • Creative
  • Responsible
  • Self-motivated

Most Commonly Used Words Since the Beginning of Resume

  • Results-driven
  • Detail-oriented
  • Team player
  • Highly skilled
  • Excellent communication skills

Vague Words that Need More Context

  • Likeable – Only those with whom you previously worked with may attest to this.
  • Expert – Nowadays, anyone may simply claim to be an ‘expert.’
  • Successful – State examples that prove it instead of saying you’re successful.
  • Innovative – We live in a digital age; almost all of us are innovative.
  • Dynamic – Does this mean you’re flexible? Be clear.

Resume Keywords: Dos and Don’ts

Let’s list the things to avoid first. Here are some of the don’ts of resume keywords you should flag before writing your job search tool:

  • Don’t use white font to hide keywords from the system and human eyes.
  • Don’t repeat keywords in a sentence just to beat the bots. Remember that your resume will also be reviewed by human eyes.
  • Don’t overstuff your skill list in unreasonable and unbelievable levels. This might be doubtful if you bombarded your document with skills that are out of context for the job.

Instead, do the following tips:

  • Do use action words to describe yourself not only as a doer but also as an achiever.
  • Do make sure your resume keywords are aligned with the job posting, including the qualifications and job descriptions.
  • Do your research regarding the industry jargon to showcase that you have skills and kn0wledge of the job you are applying for.
Job Application Recruiter Examines The Resume

List of Top Resume Keywords for Each Profession and Field

We know that this is what you’ve been waiting for! Without further ado, here’s the list of keywords to use in resume for each profession and field that could help you when creating your resume.

Information Technology

Resume Keywords for IT:

ArchitectureDesign patternsInformation technologyProduct testingTechnical support
Artificial intelligenceDigital mediaKnowledge managementProgram managementTechnology stack
Business analysisDisaster recoveryLicensingProject managementTesting
Business continuityDistributed systemsMachine learningResource managementTurnkey
Certificate authorityDistribution channelsMS SQLRoot cause analysisUML
Change managementEncryptionNeeds assessmentScrumUnix
Cloud computingEnterprise systemsNetwork solutionsSDLCUser interface design
Competitive intelligenceFrameworkNoSQLSoftware developmentVendor management
Database designGraphic designOracleSoftware engineeringVisual Basic
Database managementInformation securityPrivacy policySystem integrationWorkflow management


Resume Keywords for Healthcare:

Average response timeERMedical assistancePCRSedation
Cardiac catheterizationFistula revascularizationsNursing practitionersPhysician prescriptionsSkin grafts
Cardiac cath labFlow sheetsNursing staffPICC LinesSpecial procedures unit
Caseload managementGovernment requirementsOccupational therapyPlastic surgerySurgical equipment
Central line placementsHMOOR NursePoliciesSwan-Ganz catheter
Composite health care systemHospital procedureOutpatientPrescription drugTests
CPRICUPacemakerPresentationsTraumatized patients
DiagnosisImmunizationsPaternity testsQuality of careTreatment
ElectrophoresisInstructionsPatient care proceduresSamplesUltrasound
Emergency treatmentInstrument traysPatient comfortSatisfaction surveysWater safety

Sales and Marketing

Resume Keywords for Sales and Marketing:

AccountBehaviorDirect responseProfit growthTechnology
Account managementBrand managementDirect salesPromotionsTelemarketing
Action planCampaignDistributorRevenue streamTerritory
AdvertisingCompetitive analysisIncentive planningSales forecastingTrade marketing
Agency managementCreative designMarginSocial mediaTrade show booth design
AnalyticsCustomer loyaltyMarket launchSolutions sellingTransportation
AngleCustomer needsMarket positioningSupply chainTrend analysis
AudienceCustomer retentionMarket shareSustainabilityVendor
B2BDesignNew marketSweepstakesVisuals
B2CDirect mailProduct launchTarget marketWholesale

Education and Training

Resume Keywords for Education and Training:

AddressedCounselHolistic learningMentorSetting boundaries
AdvisedCourseworkIndividualized educationParent communicationsTeaching
AssistedCurriculumInstructionParent-teacher meetingTechnology
AwardedDisciplineIntegrationPeer counselingTraining
ClassroomEducationInteractiveProgram developmentTutoring
CoachEnrollmentInterpersonalPublic relationsVerbal communication
Cognitive skillsField instructionJob placementRecruitmentWriting lesson plans
CollaborationFundraisingListeningRelationship buildingWriting reports
Community buildingGoalsLiteracyScholasticWritten communication


Resume Keywords for Engineering:

3D modelingDevelopment cycleIndustrial engineeringProduct innovationRegulatory compliance
AnalysisDocumentationJustificationProject costingResearch and development
Budget managementEfficiencyLand surveyProject managementScale-up
Business processEngineeringLean manufacturingProject planningScheduling
Capital projectEnvironmental testingManufacturabilityPrototypeSix Sigma
Charge orderExperimental designMethodsQualitative analysisTechnical specification writing
Computer-aided engineeringFacilities engineeringOperationsQuality assuranceTender documentation
Continual improvement processField performanceProcess developmentQuantitative analysisTotal quality management
Contract negotiationGuidelinesProcess standardizationR&DTurnkey
Cross-functional teamHydraulicsProduct designRe-engineeringWork methods

Finance and Accounting

Resume Keywords for Finance and Accounting:

AccountingComplianceFinancial statementsMarketsStandards
Accounts payableCorporate governanceForeign exchangeMergers and acquisitionsStrategic planning
Accounts receivableCost accountingGAAPNet worthTechnology
Asset managementData analysisGeneral ledgerOverheadTransaction
Balance sheetDue diligenceIncome statementPublic speakingTreasury
BillingEquityInventory managementReal estateUnderwriting
Business planExpendituresLetter of creditReceiptsValuation
CampaignFAFSALiquidityRisk managementVendor
Chart of accountsFeasibilityLoan administrationSarbanes-OxleyVenture capital
CollectionsFinancial planningMachine learningSecuritiesYield
Male Job Seeker Incorporating Resume Keywords On His Resume

Remember that if your resume does not contain the required keywords, like the list of resume keywords we have shared above, ATS and hiring managers will ignore it. However, if your document reaches the needed level of keyword density, you will level up your game and move to the next stage of screening. Not only that, resume keywords will help you showcase what you’ve got as a professional and why you’re the perfect fit for the job.

Partner with Expert Resume Writers Today!

In reality, targeting the right resume keywords is as easy as one-two-three since these are all posted in job ads. The only challenge is how you will use and where to put them.

This is where we come in. We’ve got your back! With our professional resume writers, we can help you craft a job search tool that can stand out among other applicants, impress hiring managers, and beat the systems. Check out our resume writing services to get started. You may also avail our free resume review service if you have existing resume to help you evaluate its effectiveness.

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