Do Key Words Matter in a Resume?

Most websites and resume guidelines advocate the use of key words.  I am often asked by students and alumni why key words matter?

The Resume Review Process

It is often not a human making the decision on whether to advance your resume in the process.  Many employers rely on software to review applications and if your resume and cover letter do not contain the appropriate key words, you are eliminated from consideration.  You must make it through the computer screening to have any possibility of having a human review your resume and inviting you for an interview.

Regardless of your relevant experience and key transferrable skills, you may not emerge as a candidate for the position if your resume does not make it through the automated screening process.  The scanning software it set up to search for critical key words in your resume and cover letter.

How do I know which key words are critical?

The single most critical indicator of relevant key words is the job description.  Review the entire job description carefully and highlight the key words in the posting about the skills needed for success.  Be sure to include the applicable ones in your resume and cover letter.  It is likely that the software will be searching for critical skills identified in the job description.  Increase your chances of success by including words from the job description in your resume and cover letter.

Be strategic about how you use your key words.  Be sure they are in your resume summary and core competencies as well as in your cover letter.

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