How to Find the Best ATS Friendly Resume Keywords to Use in Your Job Search [With Industry-Specific Examples]

People are always talking about the importance of adding keywords to your resume when you apply for a job, but has anyone ever stopped to understand why we should care about keywords or even spend the time learning about which ones to use?

In today's job market, it's more important than ever to make sure your resume stands out and shows hiring managers you are a qualified candidate. One way to do this is by including the right keywords. Keywords are the key to your next job interview, and ultimately, advancing your career.

These words and phrases are used by employers to identify candidates who have the skills and qualifications they're looking for. By including relevant keywords in your resume, you can increase your chances of getting noticed by an employer and landing an interview.

In this article, we'll discuss what resume keywords are, how to use them effectively, and provide examples of common resume keywords for different industries. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of how to optimize your resume for maximum visibility and success.

What are resume keywords?

Resume keywords are specific words or phrases that an employer may use in a job listing and in their internal systems to identify qualified job applicants. These words are used to help both candidates and recruiters throughout the hiring process determine if they are a fit for a particular job.

These words typically relate to the skills, qualifications, and experience required for the position, and may include industry-specific jargon, software and tools, and other relevant terminology. Keywords can include both types of skills, soft and hard. Here's an overview of soft and hard skills and why they are important.

Including these keywords in a resume can help increase its visibility in applicant tracking systems (ATS), which we will touch on more later, and increase the chances of the resume being selected for further review.

The keywords you choose are going to change for each job posting and company. Even if you are applying to the same job title, the companies may be looking for something slightly different, so your resume buzzwords can differ on each document. 

If you aren't clear on what roles you are targeting or you have multiple interests, create a job search plan to guide you before submitting job applications. 

Why are resume keywords important?

Resume keywords are important because they help to increase the chances of your resume being selected by an applicant tracking system (ATS) and passed on to recruiters for review. Here are several reasons outlining resume keyword importance:

  1. Applicant tracking systems (ATS): Many companies use ATS software to screen resumes and automatically identify those that are a good match for the role. These systems are designed to scan resumes for specific keywords that match the job requirements. If your resume doesn't contain the right keywords, it may not be selected for further review.
  2. Relevance: Including relevant keywords in your resume helps to demonstrate that you have the skills and qualifications required for the job. Employers are more likely to be interested in your resume if it's clear that you have the necessary experience and expertise.
  3. Visibility: By including the right keywords, you can increase the visibility of your resume, making it more likely to be found by recruiters and hiring managers.
  4. Showcasing your skills and experience: By highlighting your specific skills and experience with keywords, you can quickly demonstrate your qualifications to the hiring manager and make your resume stand out from other candidates.

Including the right keywords in your resume can help increase the chances of your resume being selected for further review and ultimately increase the chances of landing an interview.

To get an idea of what effective keyword use looks like, take a look at these examples for a software developer resume, marketing manager resume, and a graphic designer resume.

Applicant tracking systems

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software tool used by employers to streamline the recruitment process. It is used to sort, filter, and manage resumes and job applications, making the process more efficient and less time-consuming for recruiters and hiring managers.

The ATS automatically screens resumes by searching for specific keywords, qualifications, and other criteria that match the requirements of the job opening. This helps to identify the most qualified candidates and reduce the number of resumes that need to be reviewed manually.

Resume keywords and applicant tracking systems

Resume keywords and applicant tracking systems (ATS) are closely related. When a job opening is created, recruiters and hiring managers will typically identify a set of qualifications and skills that are required for the position. These qualifications and skills are then used to create a list of keywords that should be included in a resume and cover letter submitted with a job application.

When a candidate submits a resume through an ATS, the system will automatically scan the document for these keywords. If the resume contains enough of the keywords, it will be considered a "keywords match" and will be passed on to the recruiters for review. If the resume doesn't contain enough of the keywords, it may be rejected or placed in a lower priority pile.

It's important for job seekers to understand that ATS are designed to look for specific keywords and phrases, so it's important to include relevant keywords and phrases that match the job requirements in your resume. This can include job titles, technical skills, certifications, and industry-specific terminology.

In addition to including the keywords, it's also important to format the resume in a way that is easy for the ATS to read. This includes using simple formatting, avoiding graphics or images, and saving the file in a compatible format such as .doc or .pdf.

Use Teal's Resume Builder to choose a professional resume template.

Format and use professional templates to make your resume stand out.
Format and use professional templates to make your resume stand out.

How do you find the right keywords?

Finding the right keywords to include in your resume is an important step in making your resume stand out to potential employers and finding your new career.

One way to find the right keywords is to review job listings for the type of role you are applying for. Look at the language used in the posting and identify the keywords and phrases that are used most frequently. These are likely the resume keywords employers are looking for in a candidate, so use the same language in your job application materials.

Another way to find the right keywords is to review job descriptions for positions similar to the one you are applying for. Identify the most important qualifications and responsibilities and these will likely be the keywords that are most relevant to the position.

Identifying action verbs in the job description usually provides insight into the soft skills needed for the role.

Then, you want to look out for hard skills, or technical skills, like technology tools, functional skills, and anything that is teachable and measurable.

Researching industry-specific websites, looking at the resumes of people who are already working in your desired field, or using keyword research tools can also be very helpful in identifying the right keywords to include in your resume. Remember to use keywords that are relevant to your qualifications and experience and use them in a natural way, so you avoid keyword stuffing and your resume sounds professional and not forced.

How to use resume keywords

Resume keywords are specific words or phrases that an employer might use to search for candidates in a resume database. To use resume keywords, identify the keywords that are relevant to the job you are applying for, and then incorporate them, along with some resume buzzwords here and there, into your resume in a natural and strategic way. Some ways to use keywords in your resume include:

  1. Including them in your job titles and descriptions
  2. Using them in the skills section of your resume
  3. Incorporating them into your accomplishments and achievements
  4. Using them in the resume summary or objective statement at the top of your resume

But how many resume keywords should you include? It's important to note that using too many keywords can make your resume sound unnatural and forced. So, use keywords strategically and in a way that makes sense for your resume and your qualifications, as they relate to the job description.

Embedding keywords into the experience section

Beyond the hard and soft skills, you will want to include additional experience details. Remember, a human will read your resume too, so it needs to be more than just a list of employers with added keywords. You want to include context and relevant details about your previous job experiences.

Here are some tips to help get your resume past the ATS.

  • List your years of experience
  • Highlight technical skills
  • Make sure you have any degrees or certificates clearly stated
  • If you are involved in any clubs or professional groups, have them on your resume
  • List any systems or software you are proficient in

It's important to include the right keywords based on the specific job description. If you are applying for a content writer position and also a copy editor for example, you will need two versions of your resume. The hiring manager wants to find candidates that have the specific skills needed to get the job done.

While the two job descriptions could be similar, pay attention to the differences listed. If you take the time to customize your resume with ATS keywords for each role, you will have a better chance of your resume getting past the ATS and into the hands of the hiring manager.

Resume keywords for a specific job description

The keywords and phrases that you find throughout each job listing will help you build your achievements in a way that is relevant and specific to the role you are targeting.

Do these 5 steps to find and use the right keywords for each job posting:

  1. Save the job posting in a place where you can edit and highlight keywords
  2. Scan through the job listing 2-3 times and highlight the keywords and phrases
  3. Segment the skills into two buckets - Soft Skills and Hard Skills
  4. Look for repeat keywords, as they will be the more important skills for the role
  5. Frame your accomplishments to include the keywords that you have found for each posting

Here is an example of keywords in a job description:

Since each job ad will be looking for something different, you'll want to take these 5 steps for every job posting. It's very time consuming, although it's a necessary step to present the best version of yourself.

If you’re hoping to save time, you can use Teal's free Job Tracker tool. It allows you to pull in job postings from all of the most popular job advertisements sites through our Chrome extension. Once you’ve pulled in a job posting, the Job Tracker will scan through and highlight keywords for you while segmenting them into soft and hard skills.

Use Teal’s Free Job Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.
Use Teal’s Free Job Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.

Resume keywords list by industry

Creating a resume that stands out from the competition is crucial for job seekers when job hunting. One way to make your resume more effective is by including keywords that are specific to your industry. These keywords help to highlight your relevant skills and qualifications, and make your resume more likely to be noticed by potential employers.

In this section, we will provide you with a list of keywords that are commonly used in various industries to help you tailor your resume for your desired field.

Keywords for sales resume

  • Sales management
  • Business strategy
  • B2B/B2C sales
  • Customer service
  • Negotiation
  • Account management
  • Customer acquisition
  • CRM
  • Pipeline management
  • Lead generation

Keywords for marketing resume

  • Digital marketing
  • Social media
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Branding
  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing research
  • ROI
  • Marketing analysis
  • PPC

Keywords for engineering resume

  • Software development
  • Java
  • SQL
  • Agile methodologies
  • Python
  • Design
  • CAD
  • Troubleshooting
  • SaaS technologies
  • MS Office Suite

Keywords for project manager resume

  • Project planning
  • Risk management
  • Time management
  • Quality assurance
  • Task prioritization
  • PMP
  • Agile (scrum) methodologies
  • Budget management
  • Problem solving
  • Stakeholder management

Along with these technical skills, don't forget to include interpersonal skills, as well.

  • Organization
  • Teamwork
  • Innovative
  • Adaptability
  • Initiative
  • Cooperation
  • Reliability
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership
  • Communication

Remember, these keywords can be listed throughout each resume section, such as education, achievements, experience, professional summary, etc. Here are a few quick examples:

  • Bachelor's degree in computer science
  • Customer service representative with a proven track record in customer satisfaction
  • Harvard business school grad excelling in time management and task prioritization
  • Conducted financial analysis and increased business profitability by X
  • Collaborated with software developers in a test driven environment

Automate your resume keywords

There are many online tools available to help you automate the process of adding keywords to your resume. Using a keyword generation tool can help you generate a list of relevant keywords for your resume.

Going back to the job description to pinpoint important keywords is the best way to ensure you are using the best keywords throughout your resume. We have a tool that automates this process for you.

Use Teal’s Resume Builder to quickly compare the skills and keywords in the job posting to those in your resume. Make sure to add any relevant experience to your customized resume and to your application answers.

Teal’s Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.
Teal’s Resume Builder compares the skills in a job description to the skills in your resume to give you a match score.

For important key phrases and words you weren't able to use in a resume section mentioned above, create a skills section. If you'd like to take the guesswork out of this section, Teal's Resume Builder has a built-in Skills & Interests section where you can easily add your details.

Add relevant skills and interests to your customized resume.
Add relevant skills and interests to your customized resume.

Knowing the right keywords will help you in your career whether it is for a new job search, career transition, or to develop yourself in your current role. It takes both time and practice to be able to identify keywords, but luckily there are tools like the Teal Resume Builder to make it easier!

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Becca Dershowitz

Becca Dershowitz

Becca is a former Special Education Teacher and Teal's Content Marketing Coordinator.

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