Include key words in your resume

I recently sent this email to a candidate I was trying to help find a position. She had just been rejected by a client of ours, and I was surprised. I figured this could be helpful to someone else who may looking for work now or in the future.

I cannot stress enough the important of key words in a resume. When I’m referring to key words, I’m talking about specific hard, objective duties, positions, skill sets, or software that you’ve used. Examples could include recruiting, payroll management, E-Verify, Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable, QuickBooks, bookkeeping, and management. In general, this doesn’t apply to subjective aspects, such as “good communicator,” or “good team player,” or “hard worker.”

These are only things you can prove by showing, not telling. Most recruiters or hiring managers (or at least most I’ve worked with) have a set number of keywords that they are looking for. If those key words are not in the resumes, the hiring managers move on. I don’t really agree with that mindset completely, but in my experience it’s virtually impossible to change the minds of the hiring managers.

There have been a couple of times in which I’ve sent a resume to a hiring manager, and then the hiring manager has rejected the resume because they assumed the candidate didn’t have that experience. I told them they did have the experience but just failed to put it on the resume, but by then it was too late.

I would tailor the resume based on the position you’re applying for. I would look carefully at the job description you are applying for and notice the key words that the company used in the job description, especially if they use them repeatedly.

Then be sure you use those words in your resume, even repeatedly as long as they make sense and are not excessively redundant. (This assumes of course those key words honestly reflect responsibilities or positions you have experience with.)

There are three to four things every hiring manager is looking for. It’s hard to know exactly what those are, but the best way is to read them in the job description carefully.

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