How to Use Keywords to Enhance Your Resume   


By Keith Harper

Looking for a job?

Chances are there are hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates with similar resumes seeking the same job. How can you differentiate yourself from the pack? Well, one way is to include the right keyword descriptions in your resume.

Here’s how it works.

What Are Resume Keywords?  

In staffing and recruiting, a “keyword” is basically a word, or phrase, that a recruiter will enter into a job board, aggregator or other source to search for a candidate with specific, mandatory skills or experiences. For instance, they can be programming languages, academic degrees, certifications, industry experience or specialized skills that a candidate must have in order to be considered for a position.

Note that a position may require multiple skills; therefore the recruiter will use several keywords in the search, such as “Java Developer” and “Banking Industry.”

You may the best Java Developer the Banking Industry has ever seen, but if your resume does not reflect those keywords, chances are you may not be found by recruiters searching for you right now.

How to Create a Keyword List for Your Resume

Start by creating a keyword list. Look at several Job Descriptions and make a list of the required skills and experiences. Also play around with the search engines on job boards to see what phrases bring back results related to the types of jobs you seek. Then create your list based on the terms you found in these job descriptions. Think of how a recruiter would search for you, what terms they would use, and write them down.

Add a Summary of Skills to Your Resume

Review your resume and make sure each Job Description includes the appropriate terms related to your qualifications and experience. Then, if you have not already done so, create a brief two- or three-line Summary that features these keywords.

Repeat Your Keywords, Use Different Forms

Don’t be afraid to repeat keywords throughout your resume. In fact, frequency can help make your resume perform better in search results. However, do not overdo it to the point it looks overly redundant. And use different forms of a keyword. For instance, “Graphic Designer,” “Photoshop Expert” and “Desktop Layout Specialist” are keywords a recruiter may enter for the same position.

Include Acronyms and Associations

If you are a member of a professional association, make sure and include the full reference of that association. And after you’ve spelled out the full terms, sprinkle in acronyms for any associations or credentials you possess.

Use Your Keywords Everywhere 

Now that you have a Master Keyword list, don’t stop at your resume. Use those terms in your Cover Letter, your LinkedIn Profile, and anywhere else where you can be found by recruiters.

Spellcheck, Spellcheck, Spellcheck 

You may have the six years experience my recruiter is looking for, but if it’s in Juva Development, you’re not going to come back high in the results. Not only make sure you spellcheck, but that any spellcheck application you use has your keywords added to its dictionary.

It is worth the effort to research and leverage a Master Keyword List for Your Resume. It will help you tune in to what recruiters are looking for, help you align your resume to job descriptions, and aid in your overall job search.

Ultimately, remember that before you can be hired, you first need to be found.

Keith Harper is a Managing Director at Axelon Services Corp. Keith began his career at Axelon Services in 1998 and consistently produced record-setting profits. Having joined the firm as an IT recruiter, he quickly rose through the ranks and today leads the highest revenue generating division at Axelon. He directs key accounts such as Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, BNP Paribas, TD Bank and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. He has built a high-performing team of talented and dedicated recruiters and account managers, to whom he provides hands-on training and guidance.

To contact Keith directly, please email

To learn more about this topic or to request a consultation and explore how Axelon can provide your organization with more high-quality candidates faster than any other staffing services provider, call us 877.711.8700 or email







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