Resume Keywords: What to Include and What to Avoid

Job Seekers

Resume Keywords

Hiring managers spend less than a minute scrutinizing that average resume. With so little time to make an impression, it’s important for you to rely on keywords to grab the reader’s attention. Picking the right keywords, however, is essential. Some will improve your standing while others will raise immediate red flags. Use this quick guide to help you subtly tweak the language of your resume in your favor.

Use Nouns Over Verbs

The best keywords are typically nouns. They offer a degree of specificity that general verbs like “managed” or “coordinated.” simply don’t provide. Focus on highlighting degrees, certifications, software expertise, company names, and professional organizations.

Imply Action

When you do use verbs, try to avoid passive verbs like “supported” or “facilitated.” It’s much more effective to rely on active verbs like “achieved,” “increased,” or “resolved.” Even if they imply similar outcomes, active verbs are more attention grabbing and impressive.

Study the Job Description

Job descriptions are packed with clues that reveal what the employer is looking for. For example, if a job description mentions that the ideal candidate has “UX/UI experience,” find a way to work that exact phrase into your resume (as long as you honestly have the qualification). That way, when the hiring manager is scanning your resume, they will be able to immediately cross off a box on their checklist.

Read the Mission Statement

A company’s mission statement is essentially a brief and condensed description of their company philosophy. The values and goals they look for in their recruits are likely revealed quite explicitly. Read through the mission statement and any other company info you can find, and try to pick out the qualities/traits that they emphasize the most. Then find a way to work the language that they use into your resume. Look especially for terms that show up in both the job description and on the company website.

Sprinkle in Jargon

Using jargon, acronyms, and industry-specific terms implies a level of expertise. Don’t over-rely on this type of language, but try to sprinkle it throughout the document wherever appropriate.

Skip the Adjectives

Adjectives are almost always unnecessary on your resume. Your accomplishments should speak for themselves without needing to be embellished or clarified. Remove words like “dynamic,” or “team oriented,” and instead revise your resume to highlight metrics and successes that demonstrate you have these qualities.

Crafting an effective resume requires you to write, revise, and scrutinize every word in the process. If you are not approaching the process strategically, you are going to get called for fewer interviews. Find additional resources to help you stand out at all stages in the recruitment process by working with the experts at INSPYR Solutions. Get started today by searching open jobs.


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