This post addresses keywords in resumes.
As we have mentioned when reviewers read resumes there
are three distinct “passes”. The first is the quick assessment
seeking measures specifically matching needs of the organization.
Usually, it is performed in about 5-30 seconds and focuses
on the “resume red zone”, or the middle third of page 1 of the
resume. Keywords matching what is in the job description from
the hiring organization suggests a strong, viable candidate.
The second and third passes also look for keywords in
statements or content that supports the “red zone” [in the
EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE and SKILLS (MS) sections
and provide insight into something special about the candidate
[in the CERTIFICATION and AFFILIATIONS sections].
Keywords included in the EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION
CERTIFICATION and AFFILIATION sections support the
red zone assertions by stating clearly the accomplishments.
Both the action verbs as well as the methods and quantified
outcomes need to be keywords.
An EXPERIENCE section accomplishment statement might be:
- synthesized and purified cis- and trans- isomers of
3,4-didehydrolretinol for analytical standards in melanophore
characterization. [keywords underlined]
EDUCATION keywords include specific degree, field, thesis adviser
and thesis topic or title.
AFFILIATION keywords point to examples of leadership, continuous
learning, military or project dynamics exposure, for example.
A representative example of a technical resume is 1 .
It is quite common these days that resumes and online profiles
are also computer scanned looking for keywords. Here is
also where one needs to be aware of the terms in each field and
their appropriate acronyms. There can be an overuse that needs
to be managed.
Special cases where computational tools are key features
one should find a way to state the software and how the software
was used and implications of the study. These are keyword
Experienced, mid-career professionals need to balance their
use of tools with what the current technical terms are in the
field. Using an out-of-date keyword can be a significant
disadvantage in a resume or cover letter.