🔍 How Smart Job Seekers Do Resume Keyword Research

Choose the right resume keywords and phrases so recruiters are more likely to find you.

How Smart Job Seekers do Resume Keyword Research

Photo Credit: JonoTakesPhotos

This is a guest post by Fatemah Mirza.

The key to writing a perfect resume is balancing how “readable” your resume is by computer scanners between how likable you sound to a human being.

Every resume must be targeted to ensure that the audience feels as though you are talking to them and saying, “Yes, I am aware of all your problems and this is how I will solve them.”

This is also true of LinkedIn profiles.

Not including keywords is a big mistake most applicants make when uploading resumes to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) like the ones used by LinkedIn, Monster.com, and almost all recruiters.

Not including keywords is a big mistake most applicants make when uploading resumesClick To Tweet

To find out which keywords will suit your profile best, find a bunch of job descriptions that you would apply to. If, for example, I wanted to work as an environmental engineer, I would find job postings (for example, on Monster.com) that are written by engineering firms looking to hire professionals with my experience.

Find at least ten of these postings and paste them into wordcounter.net, a website which breaks down how often words appear in text.

Did you do any keyword research for your most recent resume?


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I pasted the top ten environmental engineering listings from monster.com into wordcounter.net, and here’s what I got:

Keyword Density

1. Engineering 61 (9%)
2. project 52 (8%)
3. wastewater 42 (6%)
4. experience 41 (6%)
5. environmental 41 (6%)
6. management 34 (5%)
7. design 31 (5%)
8. engineer 30 (5%)
9. amec 30 (5%)
10. energy 27 (4%)

So now I know that not only should I mention that I am an environmental engineer, I should make sure my resume talks about my experience with wastewater, management, design, and energy.

getting the right keyword cartoon

Where to use the keywords

Incorporate keywords throughout your resume and bold them as follows:

“Conducted several lab projects related to wastewater management and put together detailed reports.”

This will help readers quickly get an understanding of your skills when they skim your resume. Additionally, you can put in a “Skills” section that includes keywords towards the top of your resume.

Keywords should appear often in your LinkedIn profile. Fit as many of them as you can in your headline. If we use the keywords from my Wordcounter.net findings, a headline like this might be appropriate:

“Environmental Engineer with Management Experience | Wastewater & Sludge Treatment | Energy Efficiency | Design Control”

This headline not only explains to viewers which job you want to land, it also shows your areas of expertise.

Keywords should also appear in your LinkedIn summary, current job title, past job titles, headlines, projects, and skills, but appropriately. Make sure your keyword use is logical and not overwhelming (avoid what SEOs call “keyword stuffing”).

After you are done sprinkling keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile, try searching for yourself just as a recruiter might. If your profile has been keyword-optimized and if you have at least 500 connections, your search rankings should be high.

Keep experimenting with keywords until your search rank increases and your profile appears higher in the results.

Another take

How to Keyword Optimize Your Resume

Extra: How to Use Effective Resume Keywords

About the Author

fatemah mirzaNot everyone has the ability to communicate their strengths. For that reason, Fatemah started Career Tuners in 2010 with one philosophy—every single person in the world is brilliant in their own way. Since then, she has helped hundreds of clients land their dream jobs and get admitted into their reach schools.

The original version of this article was part of the The $11K 8th Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest.

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