How to Choose the Perfect Keywords for Your Resume

Resume KeywordsMany job seekers already know how important it is to use resume keywords; they understand that whether an applicant tracking system or a hiring manager is reviewing your resume, you’re more likely to be considered for a role if you use specific words and phrases related to the position.

But how do you decide which keywords to use?

Below are some suggestions for choosing the perfect keywords for your resume:

Job Listings

The most obvious place to start is with searching job listings. Look through job listings in your industry, or desired industry, to get a sense of the most wanted skills and qualifications. What’s emphasized?

Many job descriptions list Microsoft Office, for example, but some will go further and specify requirements for advanced Excel skills, or experience using templates in Word. Including concrete details in your resume skills section about what you can do with various tools can make you stand out as a candidate. Pay attention to the specific vocabulary and terminology used for skills and abilities, and make sure your resume reflects it.

Resumes and LinkedIn Profiles

Visit and click “Find Resumes.” Search for skills, tools, and technologies related to the career you are pursuing, and take note of the ones that appear on numerous resumes. Do another search for fields and job titles related to your job search and again, make note of keywords you see repeatedly.

Browse the profiles of people in your industry on LinkedIn. Don’t limit your search to just one job title or keyword. Profiles that rank highly in the search results are likely to have used keywords effectively, so do pay particular attention to those profiles. LinkedIn profile summaries are a particularly good source of keywords.

Industry Sources

No matter what your industry or profession, there are likely related blogs and trade publications to read. Seek them out to stay up-to-date on the expectations for your field. Following subject matter experts and leading companies on social media is another way to learn about emerging tools, trends, and skills.

Staying ahead of the curve is especially important if you think you will have to fight age bias in your job search.

Word Clouds

If you’re a visual learner, give a word cloud a try. A word cloud is an image made from text; the words that appear the largest in the word cloud are the ones that appeared most frequently in the text used to create the image. There are plenty of free word cloud tools available online; WordItOut is particularly easy to use, and has plenty of customization options.

Make a few word clouds from the text of job descriptions that interest you. It’s a quick way to get a good sense of the skills and experience in demand in your field.


This word cloud was generated from the job posting for a mobile marketing role.


When using resume keywords, keep in mind that quality of your keyword use matters. To get an instant analysis of how well your resume is tailored for a specific job, visit Jobscan and paste in the text of your resume and the text of the job posting. Jobscan will give you feedback about what you’ve done well and what you can do better, along with an overall score for how well your resume matches up.

As you write your resume, mix and match these keyword-finding techniques… and move your application to the top of the recruiter’s “must interview” pile!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan!





This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.