When researching resume-writing tips, one of the first pieces of advice you’re likely to encounter is, “Be sure to use plenty of relevant 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 words and phrases that recruiters and potential employers program Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to identify. They help potential employers easily pinpoint candidates with the skills, experiences, and credentials they are looking for. While there are many different ATS, most rank, qualify, or disqualify candidates in part due to the words and phrases used on the resume.

How Do I Know What Keywords to Include?

Many keywords are skills that are specific to your industry rather than personality traits. For example, it makes sense that an employer would want to interview project managers who understand the importance of strategic planning. While that same employer might be looking for leaders with strong communication skills, the ATS likely is not. However, that’s not to say that soft skills shouldn’t be included in the resume. Instead, my suggestion is to prioritize hard skills, certifications, and credentials first and list softer skills once you’ve already made a strong case for your industry qualifications.

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, the goal is to ensure your resume gets through ATS to a human being. Like most elements of professional success, keyword optimization, especially when it comes to resumes, is all about balance. 

If you are still having trouble identifying the right combination of keywords, we are here to help. Schedule a free call here: https://morleycareersolutions.com/contact/