Including Search Keywords and Phrases in a Resume

Recruiters and employers use keywords to search and retrieve e-resumes in databases for available job positions. These search keywords are primarily nouns and short phrases, and sometimes adjectives and action verbs.

Keywords identify your experience and education in these categories:

  • Skills

  • Technical and professional areas of expertise

  • Achievements

  • Professional licenses and certifications

  • Other distinguishing features of your work history

  • Prestigious schools or former employers

Employers identify keywords, often including industry jargon, that they think represent essential qualifications necessary for high performance in a given position. They specify those keywords when they search a resume database. Rather than stopping with action verbs, connect your achievements. You managed what? You organized what? You developed what?

Keywords are arbitrary and specific to the employer and each employer search. So the keywords (qualifications) in each job ad are the place to start as you customize your resume for the position. But you need to make educated guesses on which keywords to use when you’re warehousing your resume online and not responding to a specific job ad.

The following lists provide a few examples of keywords for selected career fields and industries.

Keywords for administration/management

administrative processes facilities management
bachelor’s degree front office operations
back office operations office manager
benchmarking operations manager
budget administration policy and procedure
change management production schedule
crisis communications project planning
data analysis records management
document management regulatory reporting

Keywords for banking

branch manager loan management
branch operations loan recovery
commercial banking portfolio management
construction loans retail lending
credit guidelines ROE (Return On Equity)
debt financing ROI (Return On Investment)
FILO (First In, Last Out) trust services
financial management turnaround management
investment management Uniform Commercial Code Filing
investor relations workout

Keywords for customer service

account representative Help desk
call center key account manager
customer communications order fulfillment
customer focus groups order processing
customer loyalty product response clerk
customer needs assessment records management
customer retention sales administration
customer retention innovations sales support administrator
customer service manager service quality
customer surveys telemarketing operations
field service operation telemarketing representative

Keywords for information technology

automated voice response (AVR) global systems support
chief information officer help desk
client/server architecture multimedia technology
cross-functional team network development analyst
data center manager project lifecycle
director of end user computing systems configuration
disaster recovery technology rightsizing
end user support vendor partnerships

Keywords for manufacturing

asset management logistics manager
assistant operations manager manufacturing engineer
automated manufacturing materials coordinator
capacity planning on-time delivery
cell manufacturing outsourcing
cost reductions shipping and receiving operation
distribution management spares and repairs management
environmental health and safety union negotiations
inventory control warehousing operations
just-in-time (JIT) workflow optimization

Keywords for human resources

Bachelor of Science, Business Administration (BSBA) organizational development (OD)
college recruitment recruiter
compensation surveys regulatory affairs
cross-cultural communications sourcing
diversity training staffing
grievance proceedings succession planning
job task analysis team leadership
labor contract negotiations training specialist
leadership development wage and salary administration
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