If you've been on the lookout for a job in recent months — or really, at any point in the past several years — you have no doubt heard of how important "keywords" have become in both your resume and cover letter. Simply put, even if companies aren't automatically screening for these words or phrases (and many are), hiring managers are still looking for these key indicators.
Why? Proper use of keywords a sign you're both right for the job and paying attention to the listings. They want candidates who are on the same wavelength, so take the following steps to maximize your use of them:
1) Look what's used in the listing
The first and most important part of using keywords is identifying the words that stand out in the job listing, then editing your resume and cover letter to use them as well, according to Job Hunt. That likely means a little more work for you ever time you apply for a job, but it can really pay off in terms of at least helping you advance past the initial candidate phase.
2) Tailor them to the job
Even beyond what's actually listed in the job posting itself, it's important that you make sure the keywords pertaining to your career that you want to highlight are also in line with what the position requires, Job Hunt said. If you have worked under people for most of your years in the field, but want to move into management, you will have to alter your resume to highlight leadership skills or potential.
3) Identify a number of keywords and use them liberally
One thing you don't want to do is hammer the same two or three keywords over and over again in your documents, according to The Balance Careers. Instead, use several — and their synonyms — to avoid coming across as repetitive and inattentive.
4) Apply them to different skills on your resume
You have no doubt put together an impressive list of accomplishments and skills in your career, and finding ways to apply a keyword or two to all of them can go a long way toward making you stand out, The Balance Careers advised. Again, they should be used liberally throughout the document, but don't try to squeeze them in where they don't belong.
5) Start with the hard skills
Often, companies use hard skills to differentiate real contenders for the job from the rest of the pack, and then soft skills to separate the final handful of candidates from one another, according to The Muse. For that reason, you might want to really highlight your hard skills and accomplishments, then let your soft skills shine later in the process.
6) Don't just abbreviate
When you are posting keywords related to accomplishments, certifications, degrees you may have and so on, it's important to use both the full words (i.e., bachelor's degree) and the abbreviations (B.A.), The Muse noted. That way, nothing is going to slip through an auto-screener and ensures your resume gets reviewed by a real person.
7) Triple-check spelling and grammar
This goes for any communication you send to a prospective employer, The Muse further advised. Even the smallest mistake can be used to disqualify you, and many of these mistakes aren't something spellcheck will catch.