We can all thank search engines like Google for the heavy importance that keywords carry in all aspects of the electronic world. Resumes are no different.

Gone are the days of printing out your resume on fancy “resume paper” and mailing it off (or hand delivering it) to a Hiring Manager. We are a paperless society, everything is done electronically, and that means that we are up against far more competition.

There are many obstacles involved in the resume writing process, and determining the right keywords to include in your resume is definitely a big one. Especially with the advent of keyword scanning systems that many large organizations and corporations are using to weed out unqualified candidates.

What is a keyword scanning system? It is an electronic system that automatically scans your resume for keywords that are present in the job posting. Your resume must score a certain percentage of keywords before a Hiring Manager will review the document.

Though keywords are important, they shouldn’t send you into panic mode. You know what you do for a living, which means you know what keywords are commonly used in your industry. You really just need a process to refresh your memory of these keywords when putting together your resume.

We’ve created a three-step process for you to follow to ensure that you’ve integrated the right keywords into your resume, in order to pass the keyword scanning system, impress a Hiring Manager, and dominate your competition.

1. Review job postings

You have to see what’s out there. Though you may be applying for a handful of targeted roles, you should still be reviewing up to 10 job postings in your field. With each posting, you should compare and contrast the similar terms and keywords that are appearing throughout the posting.

Different companies and industries may use slightly different keywords, but it should be easy to identify the commonly used phrases.

Next Step – Insert these commonly used phrases and keywords into your resume both in a bulleted keyword section, and also throughout your value statement and professional experience. This will ensure that the keywords flow as part of the overall theme and focus of the resume.

2. Research your competition

If you are not already a member of LinkedIn, become one… now! LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable resource when you are in the midst of your job search, and is a key component that you will need in order to dominate your competition.

The beauty of LinkedIn is that you have access to the career history of millions of professionals at your fingertips.

By using the search function, you can type in the job title for the position you are targeting, and find other professionals who hold similar roles. You may even find someone within the company that you are hoping to apply with.

By reviewing their career history, you will be able to identify the keywords used by those already performing the role, as well as the keywords that the company prefers as they’ve previously hired these candidates to fulfill this role in the past.

Similar to the process involved with job postings, we recommend reviewing the profiles of at least 10 professionals with a similar career history and academic background as yourself, who are now in the role that you are targeting. If they are employed by the company that you are applying to, that’s just an incredible plus on your side.

3. Make your keywords count

After you’ve identified the keywords that are commonly used in your field and industry, it is time to integrate them into your resume. Notice I said integrate and not input.

Inputting keywords basically means you need to make sure the words randomly appear throughout your document. This would be helpful to pass the keyword scanning system, but what about when the Hiring Manager is viewing the resume? This is where you need to integrate the keywords by providing examples, achievements, and results.

A simple way to input keywords into your resume is to add them into your bulleted keyword section (most likely titled Areas of Expertise).

If the keyword is mentioned here, it should definitely appear again in your Professional Experience section, and this is where you have to make it count.

The keyword should be explained as a “cause and effect” statement. This type of statement will show that by implementing your skills with this keyword, you were able to benefit the company by achieving results.

For example, relationship-Building: “Utilized effective relationship building skills to acquire up to 50 new clients annually and achieved a revenue increase of 30% per year.”

We integrated the keyword, Relationship Building, and demonstrated how that skill led to benefits for the company.

Don’t you think that example is far more effective than simply saying you have exceptional relationship building skills? It all comes down to the proof – you must provide examples of achievements in order to impress the Hiring Manager.

The next time you are targeting your resume for a specific role, take the time to follow these three steps to determine the required keywords and improve your resume. This could be the last push you need to get your resume noticed.

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