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Keywords Enhance Your Resume

Fluff. That is what most job seekers believe keywords are on a resume - something that takes up white space. The reality is, however, that keywords are an integral part of the resume process for the following reasons:

  1. Most resumes today aren't initially read by human eyes, but rather by a scanning system. This is how this works: a clerk at the hiring organization scans resumes into a computer. When a position becomes available, a Human Resources Representative goes into the computer system and punches in the appropriate keywords. The resumes that are retrieved by the computer dictate who is called in for interviews. This means that you can conceivably qualify for a position but your resume may never be reviewed because it lacked the right keywords. Therefore, you may never be called in for an interview.

  2. When searching online, decision-makers search for prime candidates using keywords. To help you visualize how the process works, consider how you search on the Internet. You search for what you are looking for using a specific keyword, and the websites that most closely match your specific requirements will appear on the first page. It’s no different when hiring managers search for qualified candidates on online job boards. They too input specific keywords, and the resumes that match their specific request are the ones that appear in their search results.

How to Find the Appropriate Keywords

The best route to find keywords is by reading job descriptions and gathering words that appear frequently. Below is a sample job description of a Sales Representative and I have taken the liberty of underlining some of the keywords that can be highlighted on a resume. In addition, you can use your own industry expertise to determine which keywords you should be using on your resume.

The ideal candidate will develop and manage customer relationships with branch customer base. Be able to professionally promote the company's products and services by delivering informative sales presentations based on individual customer needs. Competencies include: integrity and trust, learning on the fly, dealing with ambiguity, comfort around top management, organizational agility, customer focus, decision quality, planning, consultative selling, and problem solving.

Once you have determined the appropriate keywords there are several options you have on where and how to include the keywords. Below are four options.

Option #1: Use keywords in the profile section

SENIOR MARKETING & SALES MANAGEMENT PROFILE

Results-driven management professional with 20+ years of experience in sales/marketing and leadership positions and a proven record of success in developing marketing campaigns, strategies, and solutions that generate 7- and 8-figure revenue growth. Well-versed in marketing and sales lifecycles; skilled negotiator and strategist. Excellent trainer and mentor. Able to build relationships with high-level personnel and close large sales in heavily competitive environments. Experience in managing all core functions within a business.

Option #2: Use keywords below your job title

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Business-To-Business Sales / Vertical Channel Development Sales Staff Mentoring / Consultative Selling Strategies / Customer Needs Fulfillment

Determined, customer-driven sales professional with record of exceeding sales quotas and proven results in B2B sales and account management. Demonstrated ability to gain customer trust through consultative selling approach and relationship-building skills. Adept in all aspects of sales lifecycles including prospecting, lead generation and qualification, presentations, negotiations, closing, and follow-up. Strong experience in leading cross-functional teams.

Option #3: Use keywords in the Professional Experience section

As Sales Manager, supervised reception team and created/oversaw Sales Coordinator program. As Executive Assistant, served as liaison among all sales and marketing departments, assisting with presentations, business proformas, and construction activities (during conversion of rooms into timeshare villas). As Receptionist, managed sales line for 20+ sales executives, developed procedures and improvements, and liaised between staff and manager to address and resolve issues as needed.

KEY CONTRIBUTIONS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS: