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Keywords To Unlock Your Resume's Full Potential

As a Talent Acquisition Specialist, I have reviewed thousands of resumes. Yes, the narrative is true; human resources professionals usually have a small window of time to review the contents of one resume before moving on to another. Knowing this, most applicants try to make their resume stand out by focusing on the layout, color scheme, or adding an eye-catching photo. While these efforts are acknowledged and appreciated, many persons forget to finish strong. Your resume looks good, but what does it say? 'Performed xyz...' 'Responsible for abc..' This verbiage falls on deaf ears to a Recruiter that is scanning for keywords which details the applicant's work experience.

Key Roles

Before we get into the details, let's start with your work history. Are your job titles correct? Were you an Accounts Clerk or were you an Accounts Payable Associate? The two seem similar but have different responsibilities; one is a generalist and one is a specialist. To the applicant, the mistake is nonconsequential. To the Recruiter that is searching for a candidate with accounts payable experience, the difference is essential and they will move on to the next one.

Key Responsibilities

Persons with leadership experience, this one is for you. Understand the importance of the use of words such as oversaw, planned, and coordinated. These keywords cast managerial applicants in a more positive light as they highlight both your skills and responsibilities. Are you a candidate with financial skills? Consider using analyzed, allocated, and forecasted when detailing your job function. Administrative or support staff? Your contribution is important too! You have alleviated, sustained, and aided persons and processes in your role. Serving in the role is one thing but speaking its language is another.


Information Technology applicants, this section is not for you? Why? Its because IT professionals understand the importance of listing every application that they are familiar with as that knowledge translates to competency. I have often questioned why professionals in other fields don't do the same. You may be skilled in Excel but have you mastered Pivot Tables? If so, it is a sought-after skill that should be listed. Working in retail, you may have worked with various Point of Sales applications, kindly list them. Not only is this a reflection of your knowledge but also an indicator of your ability to learn new programs.

Ultimately your resume tells a story; your story. Though resume writers and programs may assist, no one knows your story better than you do. The best stories are descriptive and detailed, painting the picture so clearly that readers can imagine it themselves. The same applies to your resume. Use keywords throughout that can unlock your resume's full potential and helps the HR professional envision you in their vacancy.

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