How to Find Keywords in Job Descriptions for Your Resume (Free Tools + Tips)

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December 1, 2023
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • The importance of keywords in job descriptions
  • How to use our Job Description Keyword Finder to extract keywords from listings
  • Using the Teal Job Application Tracker and AI Resume Builder to find the right keywords (and compare them to your resume!)

While the traditional purpose of a resume hasn't changed—to showcase your qualifications and experiences—there's now another element you have to incorporate: keywords. 

Why is finding keywords in job descriptions important? 

Well, keywords bridge your resume and a potential employer's needs. They align your specific qualifications with the job you're applying for. Understanding how to extract and incorporate them effectively is the difference between a generic resume and one tailored for job search success.

The importance of keywords in job descriptions

Keywords aren't just resume buzzwords. They're actually an important part of the modern hiring process. 

Keywords are the hard skills and soft skills hiring managers, recruiters, and prospective employers are looking for in a job candidate. Incorporating keywords in a job description emphasizes the specific responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations required in a particular role.  

For example, keywords might highlight technical knowledge of tools like:

  • Python
  • AirTable
  • Surfer

They can also point to soft skills like:

  • Critical thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Communication

It's also important to understand that the keywords vary from job to job. Just like the job duties and responsibilities are different for a project manager and a front-end developer, the required skills within a job listing will be different, too. 

How hiring professionals use job description keywords

Once the hiring manager or recruiter is ready to review the pool of applicants, they use those same job description keywords to identify the most qualified candidates. 

If a company uses applicant tracking software (ATS)—a digital filing system—team members can input the most important qualifications (as keywords) they're looking for in a candidate, and the ATS pulls the resumes that align. 

For example, suppose a company is looking for a project manager with experience in SaaS. In that case, a member of the hiring team might input keywords like "SaaS," "project management," "Agile," and "stakeholder communication" into their applicant tracking system.

Only after they input those keywords would the ATS pull those resumes that include these terms—ensuring that candidates with these particular skills and experiences are visible to the hiring team.

This means, for job seekers like you, recognizing and integrating relevant keywords into your resume isn't just an added advantage—it's vital. When you optimize your resume with the right keywords, you significantly increase the likelihood of a hiring professional considering your application.

Finding keywords in job descriptions: A step-by-step guide

In today's market, top candidates have resumes that align with the role they're applying for. Your resume should be curated and clear.

Tailoring your resume to each specific role you apply for is the key to standing out to hiring managers as a prime candidate.

A job description outlines the specific responsibilities of the position. Prospective employers review your resume to see if it matches these criteria. A tailored resume showcases the top 10% of your experience that's 100% relevant to the role you're applying for. Understanding how to identify keywords in a job description and then incorporating them into your resume increases your chances of standing out and progressing to the job interview stage. 

Keywords in job descriptions
Use job descriptions to identify exactly what a company is looking for.

Step 1: Read the entire job description

Before you start picking out keywords, read the entire job posting to get a general understanding of the role's responsibilities and requirements. This might also offer insight into the company, benefits, and overall culture—helping you determine whether or not this position would be a good fit. 

Step 2. Highlight action verbs

Identify action verbs that describe responsibilities. Words like "manage," "coordinate," "develop," or "design."

(Check out this extensive library of resume synonyms to find the right verbs, phrases to best articulate your experiences.)

Step 3: Spot technical skills and jargon

For jobs requiring specific tech knowledge, industry-specific terms, tools, or software will likely be mentioned—e.g., "Python," "SEO optimization," "financial forecasting," etc.

Step 4: Identify soft skills

Look for descriptors that pertain to interpersonal or organizational abilities, like "team player," "leadership," "excellent communication," or "problem-solving."

Step 5: Focus on qualifications and certifications

Note any specific degrees, licenses, or certifications mentioned, such as "MBA required," "Certified Public Accountant," or "PMP certification."

Step 5: List repeated terms

If a word or skill is mentioned multiple times throughout the description, it's likely a crucial requirement for the role.

Find job description keywords with Teal

Before you start combing through job descriptions to find the right keywords, there's a faster, more seamless way.

The Teal AI Resume Builder and Job Application Tracker act as a job description keyword finder—pulling the top words from every position you save in just one click so you can skip the steps.

Job description keyword finder
Use Teal to pull job description keywords.

Tips on how to pick out relevant keywords

1. Analyze Multiple Job Descriptions

Examine multiple job descriptions for similar roles to get a holistic understanding of an industry's needs. Then, create a master list of keywords from the various job ads you've analyzed. The ones consistently mentioned are primary keywords you should consider including in your applications.

2. Focus on context

Every job description is tailored to specific needs and requirements for a role. It's vital to interpret the overall context to discern which keywords are most relevant. 

For example, A job description for a "Software Engineer" at a game development company might emphasize "game engine experience." Where a "Software Engineer" at a financial institution might prioritize "secure coding."

3. Avoid general terms

While many job postings might use broad terms (like team player or proactive) to describe desired qualities, these are often too vague to set one candidate apart from another.

4. Use synonyms

Job descriptions might have a primary keyword, but using related terms or synonyms can also be beneficial. Using a variety of phrases that relate to a central skill or requirement can show depth and versatility in that area.

A screenshot of Teal's resume synonyms for finding keywords in job descriptions
Use synonyms to include a variety of phrases in your resume.

Incorporating keywords into your resume

When you've identified the relevant keywords from a job description, the next step is seamlessly integrating them into your resume. 

Here's how you can do that:

Strategically place keywords throughout various resume sections. 

Starting with your target job title and professional resume summary, introduce some of the more frequently used keywords from the job description. As these sections sit at the top of your resume, they're one of the first things hiring professionals see. 

After that, continue incorporating keywords as skills and other important language in your "Work Experience," "Education," "Certifications," "Skills" sections, and more.

Quantify using metrics alongside keywords

Rather than just listing skills, use them in context. Numbers like KPIs, metrics, and data showcase impact. Including them alongside specific keywords highlights how you achieved that impact.

Let's take a look at some examples.

"Managed a team of 10 and used Agile methodologies to accelerate project completion by 20%."
"Resolved 100+ customer complaints weekly, achieving a 95% customer satisfaction rate.
Implemented a new CRM software system that reduced response time by 25% and increased team productivity by 15%."
"Facilitated bi-weekly team communication workshops, improving cross-functional collaboration and boosting overall morale by 20%."

The importance of using keywords naturally and in context

While integrating resume keywords to create a targeted resume is important, ensuring they flow naturally within your content is equally important. Keyword stuffing might not be visible to software like applicant tracking systems (ATS), but it will be evident to most hiring professionals. 

Also, it's not enough to include the keyword; demonstrating how you applied it to have an impact is the key to successful incorporation. 

How to use Teal to find keywords in job descriptions

If you want to save the time and effort of digging into every position, the Teal Job Application Tracker and AI Resume Builder can streamline the process of finding keywords in job descriptions by extracting the top keywords like hard and soft skills so you can quickly customize your resume keywords every application.

How to find keywords in a job description with Teal

1. Start by logging in to your Teal account. (You can sign up for free if you haven't already.)

2. After that, click "Job Tracker" in the left navigation panel. 

Using Teal to find the right job description keywords.
Navigate to the Teal Job Application Tracker.

3. Finally, select any job you've saved, and Teal will highlight the important keywords (as hard skills, soft skills, and emphasis words) you need to know. 

Comparing your resume to the job description with Teal

If you want to see if your content demonstrates an effective use of resume keywords, Teal's AI-powered Resume Builder offers a Matching Mode to help!

1. Log in to your Teal account.

2. Click the "Resume Builder" in the left navigation panel. Then, select the resume you want to compare to a specific job description. 

3. From here, click the "Matching Mode" icon at the top right of your screen. 

Comparing resumes to job description keywords.
Click the Matching Mode icon.

Finally, compare a resume to job descriptions. You can also click the yellow "Switch Jobs" button to add a new job or select a different job you've already saved.

A resume compared to job description keywords
Compare your resume to keywords in a job description.

Pro Tip: You want your Match Score to be as close to 80% as possible. To increase your score, add more of the language from the job description to your resume—as long as it aligns with your actual skills and experience. 

Finding job description keywords with Teal

Finding the keywords in job descriptions and incorporating them into your resume is necessary in today's job market. In fact, your ability to strategically use these words can make all of the difference when it comes to landing an interview with a tailored and targeted approach.

One of the best resume apps, Teal simplifies the process of matching your resume to each job description with their AI Resume Builder and Job Application Tracker. With features ranging from identifying hard and soft skills (and other important language) to matching resumes with job descriptions, Teal offers a comprehensive solution for how to identify keywords in a job description and incorporate them effectively.

Want to streamline your approach to finding keywords in job descriptions (and ensure your resume aligns)?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are resume keywords and why are they important?

Resume keywords are specific words or phrases that relate to job requirements and industry terms. When used in your resume, they help hiring teams understand how you align with a role.

Struggling to find the best keywords? Sign up for Teal for free to identify the right words in every job description. Then, incorporate them into your resume—no toggling between programs or messy files.

How can I find the right job description keywords for my resume?

Identify the right keywords by reviewing the job description, noting commonly used terms related to skills, qualifications, and job titles. Additionally, tools like the Teal AI Resume Builder and Job Application Tracker can provide insights into relevant keywords you should include in your resume for unique job applications.

What are the best keywords for a resume?

The best keywords for a resume are the ones found in the job description of the role you're applying to.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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