For Job-Seekers, Keywords are Critical

By Annette DiZinno, Workforce Connection Center Consultant, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin

These days, job searches are more complicated than just filling out an application. Analytics, algorithms and applicant tracking systems serve as data-based gatekeepers, helping hiring managers scan, sort and search for the right candidate. And they achieve this by using keywords.

Why are keywords important?

Keywords are words or phrases that help define what a piece of content is about at a glance. In the hiring process, that can mean skills, qualifications and certifications that the ideal candidate possesses — and including these keywords in your résumé can be the difference between earning an interview or not.

In a highly-competitive job market, incorporating keywords into your resume can help you stand out from the crowd of other job-seekers. When used effectively, they can indicate to hiring managers that the skills, qualifications and experience that you possess match up with what’s required to perform the job as well as the organization as a whole.

Where do I find keywords?

Start with job postings. “Qualifications” and “Responsibilities” sections of are full of keywords that hiring managers are looking for. Search the job posting for which you are applying, as well as other postings for similar jobs, and identify commonly used words or phrases.

Look for words and phrases following verbs, like:

  • Coordinates shipping
  • Manages inventory
  • Programs mills and lathes
  • Maintains safe operations
  • Communicates effectively

You may also want to review the “About” section of the company’s website to pick up on organizational jargon that can demonstrate how well you’ll fit in with its culture. Words like “customer-centric” and “innovative” can hint at organizational values.

How do I use keywords in my résumé?

Now that you’ve identified keywords for the transferable skills, hard skills and soft skills that hiring managers are looking for, it’s time to incorporate the ones that align with your background or experience into your resume. Don’t do it verbatim, but try to integrate as many of the keywords that accurately describe your skills and accomplishments.

Reposted with permission from Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin.