Keyword Dominated Resumes – How Much is too Much?


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There’s a fine line between over using keywords in your resume and having just the right touch. It’s trickier than you think to create a effective and dynamic resume, so what do you have to do in order to get the right about of keywords that balance out the resume?

A lot goes into finding the right way to encode your resume. You need to be able to entice HR managers into reading your resume without rehashing the same old thing. Over the past few years, more and more software programs have been designed in order to minimize the time it takes hiring managers to read through the mountain of resumes they receive. Employers’ are dependent on keywords to find candidates that they want to interview. The key is having the right amount of keywords on your resume. Most companies, including Fortune 1000 companies and smaller companies, know how to use these technologies to assist in finding new hires, so you have to know how to take advantage of the same processes that they do. According to the National Resume Writers’ Association, more than 80 percent of resumes are searched for job-specific keywords.

How do you determine the right keywords?

In most cases, job-specific keywords are nouns. Resume writers have long used action verbs in their resume creation, and that same model is still used. But, what are the action nouns that you need? They depend on the type of position you’re applying for, your field and the type of career you seek. Still, there are many words that will work for a standard, first draft resume.

Say for instance that you’re applying for a customer service job. Some keywords for that job could be “customer database” or “upgrading software”. Review the job description in order to find keywords that match potential employers searches. The typical keywords are often related to the skills and experience each employer will be seeking in new candidates. Other times keywords are precise keywords that HR managers are looking for in order to eliminate a wide swath of candidates. If you do not have “IT Administrative Privileges” as part of your keywords, you will be overlooked for that specific position.

Narrowing down your keyword choices.

You do not want to load up your resume too much with keywords. Instead, sprinkle the right keywords throughout your resume.

One idea to add more keywords is by creating a “Areas of Expertise”  or “Core Competencies” section. This way you can add in keywords that represent the bulk of your qualifications in a space that is acceptable to the majority of HR managers. This does not penalize you, but instead enhances what you’ve accomplished.

Because you do not know all of the keywords HR managers will use, it’s a good idea to make use of synonyms or jargon words that will appeal to more specific searches. There are a lot of options available so get some help from a professional resume writer.

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Written by Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW - Visit the website to hire executive resume writer Erin Kennedy, CERW, CPRW

Erin is an internationally renowned certified resume writer specializing in professional and executive level resumes and career services.

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