Writing a keyword rich resume

Posted April 09, 2009 by

Imagine you’re on Google, Yahoo, or any Internet search engine looking for a custom clothing store in your hometown. To search, you might use a series of words (keywords) to initiate your search, such as custom clothes, boutique, petite, and the name of your town. This search combination would result in a returned list of stores that meet one or all of your search word criteria. The same goes for using relevant words (to your profession, industry and personal characteristics) in your keyword rich resume, when an employer is looking for you.
If a recruiter or HR professional is doing a search on passive candidates (those candidates who have not directly submitted an application or resume to the company’s database), they’ll use a combination of keywords related to the position, as well as words that emphasize the characteristics they’re seeking in an employee. They may do this on Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, or any job board, as well. They’re all search engine optimized. If your résumé contains these words or combinations of words, it will show up in the returned search results. When you submit your résumé online to a company’s application system, the same concept applies. When the company is ready to pull down resumes for a particular position, it may do so by title, keywords, education, or any other combination of words.


To be successful regarding getting your resume looked at, follow these tips:

  • Carefully read the job posting for which you’re applying. They are not randomly written. Use a highlighter to underline key words related to desired skills, the position title, and other characteristics or qualities. Compare your highlighted list to your resume and attempt to get some or all of the highlighted words into your resume, as it makes sense. Don’t simply randomly plug the words in; instead, construct logical, accomplishment-based resumes that contain the words or phrases if they’re relevant and truthful.
  • Use a resource such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook or O*Net’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles to research your specific job title and pull keywords from those descriptions. HR professionals typically use these resources to develop their job descriptions and postings.
  • Do an Internet search on your selected keywords and see what comes back to you. If the types of jobs being returned to you are in line with what you desire, then there is a good chance you’re selecting the right keywords that are being use and that your resume will also appear in the returned search once it’s “out there.”
  • Don’t be afraid to use your draft resume as a tool in an informational interview. Companies may not be hiring, but hiring managers and HR professionals are still interested in talking to talented people and filling their pipelines for when they are ready to hire; and by asking for an informational interview and asking for feedback on your resume, you will receive invaluable advice from your targeted companies and hiring professionals, and you’ll also be added to their talent pipeline.
    The key is to be found and to be found you need to think like the person looking for you.
    Sharon DeLay is a certified career coach and HR professional with a mission to help people find jobs they’ll love and love the jobs they have. You can visit her website at http://www.boldlygocoaching.com and follow her on Twitter at career_coach.
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