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Should I Focus on Keyword Optimization when Writing my Resume?

Graphic representation of keywords.

Should I Focus on Keyword Optimization when Writing my Resume?

By Theresa Neal

If you’ve ever gotten advice on writing a resume, you were probably told to include lots of keywords. One website even advises “put them everywhere.” While keywords do make your resume easier to find, they don’t necessarily make you a better candidate. To fully understand the impact keywords have on your resume, you need to understand what they are and how they function.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are phrases that people search for in Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). They help potential employers easily identify candidates with skills they are looking for. The problem is, if a resume lacks a keyword, employers might bypass it.

How Do I Know What Keywords to Include?

Most popular keywords are skills. They are usually skills that make sense for people in the industry to have. For example, it makes sense that an employer would want to interview project managers who understand the importance of strategic planning.

Your best bet is to think about skills, rather than personality traits, a person in your position should have. If you need a little bit of inspiration, conduct keyword research and select a few phrases to include.

What Not to Include

It can be tempting to put every keyword you can think of into a resume. That isn’t optimization. When it gets to the point that the resume stops reflecting your skills or can’t be easily read, keywords are doing more harm than good. Remember, a human is going to be reading your resume, not just a computer.

Which looks better to you?

Strategic planning professional using Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Google, and social media marketing to plan events.

-or-

Seasoned professional recognized for effectively leveraging Microsoft Office to plan and promote events.

 

The first example contains more keywords but makes little to no sense. Keyword optimization, especially when it comes to resumes, is all about balance. If you are still having some trouble with getting the right mix of keywords, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.