- If you post your resume on Internet job boards, be sure to avoid emphasizing keywords that relate to jobs you don’t want. If you have jobs in your employment history that are unrelated to what you want to do next, go easy on loading the descriptions of those jobs with keywords. Otherwise, your resume will pop up in searches for your old career and not necessarily your new one.
- Employers also seek “soft skills,” such as interpersonal and communications skills that relate to many types of jobs. These soft skills tend to be the ones that are transferable and applicable across various jobs/careers, as well as desirable personality traits. However, recent research suggests that hiring decision-makers are skeptical that soft skills can be convincingly portrayed in a resume or cover letter. They tend to believe soft skills can be substantiated only in an interview or by talking with your references. While it’s important to include some soft-skill keywords, be sure that you substantiate them with examples of how you’ve used those skills effectively. Assureconsulting.com has a nice list of nouns and adjectives on its Web site that represent a sort of “second tier” of keywords, the first tier being the hard skills that relate very specifically to the job you seek. When compiling a list of soft skills and personal traits to use as keywords, Rebecca Smith made her word selections based on frequency of occurrence.
- Some job boards have a feature that enables you to see how many times the resume you’ve posted has been searched. If your resume hasn’t been searched very many times, odds are that you lack the right keywords for the kinds of jobs you want.
- Keep running lists of keywords so that anytime you come across a word that’s not on your resume but that employers might use as a search parameter, you’ll be ready.
- If you’ve published your resume on your own Web page, keywords can boost that version, too, since employers may use search “bots” and search engines to scour the Internet for candidates that meet their criteria.
- Use keywords in your cover letters, too. Many employers don’t scan cover letters or include them in resume databases, but some do. And keywords in cover letters can be important for attracting the “human scanner.” If you’re answering an ad, tying specific words in your cover letter as closely as possible to the actual wording of the ad you’re responding to can be a huge plus.