Three Resume Keyword Tips

3 Valuable Resume Keyword Tips to Get Ahead of the Competition


In my previous post, Why Resume  Keywords Are So Important,  I defined keywords as words and phrases that have real meeting to recruitment specialists.  I also gave examples of resume keywords.  Interestingly, “position title” is the most powerful keyword to use in your resume.  I also talked about other important keywords, such as nouns or noun phrases common to a position.

Resume keyword tips
Resume keyword tips

Martin Yate, author of Knock ’em Dead, stresses the point that you have to play the keyword game. He states that if you have “no job title, focus, and/or lack of relevant, readily visible keywords” in your resume you will  never get to the job interview.

How to Find the Right Keywords?

Here are 3 great tips to find the right keywords in your job search.

Resume Keyword Tips # 1: Use job postings and job descriptions

Susan Whitcomb, author of Resume Magic, recommends using job postings and job descriptions.  A great place to find keywords is  This is a fantastic resource to find jobs and to find resumes of people applying for specific jobs.  See how others are positioning themselves.

Employers also post job offerings on the site.   There is even a listing of recommended jobs in any particular  location you search.  For example,  I found a listing for an administrative assistant in Montréal providing this information:

John Molson School of BusinessMontréal, QC

$25.49 – $30.69 an hour

Reporting to the Director of Administration, the incumbent is responsible for providing administrative, secretarial and logistical support to the Director.

If you searching for job titles and related keywords in the U.S., another amazing resource tool is Juju. If you type in “Sales,” you get this listing of job tites:

sales support
sales representative
sales associate
sales manager
sales marketing
sales management
sales director
sales coordinator
sales engineer
sales rep

I typed in “Education Sales” and found thousands of job listings.

Resume Keyword Tips # 2: Use the U.S. Department of Labor career site

Another powerful U.S. job search tool is the U.S. Department of Labor’s comprehensive career site, O*NET Online. It’s a veritable gold mine of information.  It allows you to scan specific occupations and occupational groups.

For example, I typed in the position, “Sales Managers.”  I came up with a summary report giving a wealth of  detailed information regarding:

–  Tasks: such as plan and direct staffing and training / determine price schedules and discount rates

–  Tools and technology:  such as desktop computers /  electronic mail software

–  Knowledge:  such as for sales and marketing /  English language

–  Skills:  such as active listening /  persuasion

–  Abilities:  such as speech clarity /  written expression

–  Work context:  such as electronic mail /  telephone

–  Education: such as  a bachelor’s degree

–   Work styles & values:  such as integrity / independence

Resume Keyword Tips # 3: Use The Occupational Outlook Handbook

Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, refers to this fantastic tool from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Again using sales as an example,  I typed in “Retail Sales Workers” and got these quick facts:

Quick Facts: Retail Sales Workers
2012 Median way at this ability Pay $21,410 per year
$10.29 per hour
Entry-Level Education Less than high school
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2012 4,668,300
Job Outlook, 2012-22 10% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 450,200

In addition,  I found information on:

–  What retail sales workers do

–  Work environment

–  How to become a retail sales worker

–  Pay

–  Job outlook

–  Similar occupations

So I recommend this action step:  improve the keywords in your resumes or CVs after using these job search tools.


Image courtesy of pakom /


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