Unlocking the Potential of Resume Keywords!
Unlocking the Potential of Resume Keywords!
June 16, 2022

They say that success is not the key to happiness.

But we say that keywords are still the key to success!

Keywords, when it comes to resumes, are terms that show you are a good fit for a certain position (like the right key to the right lock)!

Recruiters, and the software they use to sift through resumes, are always looking for specific qualities that the ideal candidate will demonstrate. And the best way to demonstrate that you have those abilities is by using the same words that they do to describe them!

Think of it like selling a car. If a potential buyer told you they need a car so they can travel, the first thing you say shouldn’t be about how safe the vehicle is. The first thing they want to hear is about how great the mileage is!

It doesn’t mean you can’t keep explaining what other value you bring to the table — be it airbags or professional accomplishments — but keywords are needed to start the engine, so to speak.

So how do you use keywords to their full advantage? If you’re still wondering how, don’t worry! We have a few professional tips for professionals about leveraging keywords in your resume!

Where to find your keywords

From job postings.

That’s it, really. We could have summed this whole section up in 3 words. But since we want to make sure it’s perfectly clear, here are a few more…

Job postings are where you find out about a job before you apply. In some cases, it may be your only source of information about an employer’s requirements.

And because job postings are also an employer’s first tool to shorten their list of candidates, they will make sure that the language they use is explicit. They want you to know what they’re looking for so that you don’t waste their (or your) time.

So look for words that stand out. Do they want someone who is dynamic? Motivated? Team-oriented? Has excellent communication skills? 

Keep an eye out for bullet point lists and job summaries. These are often where you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in short form!

Where to list them on your resume

You might be tempted to just throw all the keywords in a bullet point list yourself, so recruiters can easily read them.

But this is bad for two reasons.

One, they can read between the lines and see that you simply copy/pasted expectations. While this may get you through the first round or two of the application process, it will quickly become apparent that you don’t put these terms into practice.

Second, they don’t just want to see that you have these traits. They want to see how you apply them. Slip your keywords into your previous job descriptions, and your skills section, using natural language.

For example, don’t just say “leadership skills”, say something like “As a manager at company xyz, I led a team of 10 and oversaw acquisition and termination of staff.”

How often to list them on your resume

ATS (the name for document-scanning software that recruiters often use) sometimes ranks you higher if you repeat their target keywords. Humans often put more weight on a certain word if it appears more often, as well.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to mention your connection to your keywords more than just once.

You don’t have to fill the entire page with the same word over and over like a kid in detention, but you SHOULD mention the keyword wherever it’s relevant.

So if you exemplified “strong communication” as an administrator at your last job, but also as a TA in university reviewing papers, then be sure to mention your communication skills in both your job description and education sections.

When to list them on your resume

You should ALWAYS have relevant keywords on your resume.

But what keywords are relevant is NOT ALWAYS the same.

That means that you should be rewriting your resume for each job application. Make a specific version of your resume for each specific job’s requirements.

To make your life easier, you can create a master resume which is much longer but contains all the common variations of your resume sections for the different keywords common in your industry.

That way, if you have to apply to a job quickly, you only need to delete the parts that aren’t relevant.

A lot of the time you can also just swap out the specific keyword. For instance, “leadership” skills are easily replaced by “executive” or “managerial” skills, if those are more important keywords for your next job application!


Keywords are like a magic spell to improve your odds at landing a job.

Sure, instead of “abracadabra”, it’s the traits that a recruiter is looking for. But they still have a magical power to help you prove you’re the right person for the job!

If you’re looking for help with your resume (or any aspect of job searching), ReStart’s staff is available to you for free! Give us a call today and unlock the potential of your whole career!