Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » How to Use Keywords on Your Resume

All this talk about keywords on your resume everywhere you turn, but how do you know when and where to use them? Applicant tracking software picks up certain search terms within your resume and returns those results to the person conducting the search. So while you want to have the right keywords in your resume, you also don’t want to just stuff your resume with an excess of words either.

First, you need to determine the right keywords

Where do you find them? Look within the job description or ad posting first. Many times employers will put exactly the skills or experience they’re looking for right within the job ad itself. Search the ad for these keywords and make sure they appear in your resume. Another way to find appropriate keywords is to use or other similar tool where you can research online a specific position and its responsibilities. This gives you a great starting point for researching industry-specific keywords to add to your resume.

Where do the keywords go?

Include keywords in the bulleted core strengths or key skills section at the top of your resume. Place the most relevant keywords first to catch the reader’s eye when they’re performing their initial 10-second scan of your resume. Also include keywords in your career summary at the top of your resume and throughout your work experience and accomplishment-driven bullet points.

Call out the keywords

A great strategy for drawing attention to specific keywords you want the reader to notice is to bold the keywords on your resume. Here’s an example within your resume:

Account Management – Directed 50+ key financial accounts …

This draws the eye to the main keyword you want the reader to see when scanning the resume but also includes the keyword within the resume so that the applicant tracking software will pick it up too.

Keywords are a critical part of your resume—especially if you’re applying online or posting your resume to job boards—so remember to use them skillfully and appropriately. Another element that is critical in your job search is branding your resume for each position you apply for. For more information on branding your resume, check out my recent article: 5 Key Areas to Target When Branding Your Resume.  You can also get additional job search and career related advice by checking out our blog or following us on Twitter @GreatResume.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. […] the Author: A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. With more than ten years’ experience […]

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