Understanding the importance of using keywords in your resume

updated on 22 February 2024

In today's digital and AI-driven world, it is hard to believe one document accounts for most of your job search strategy - the resume. With Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scanning applications before they reach human eyes, how do you ensure your resume gets noticed? 

The answer lies in resume keywords.

These strategic easter eggs, sprinkled throughout your resume, can make all the difference between landing an interview and getting lost in the black hole of applications. But finding the right keywords and using them effectively can be tricky. 

Worry not, job seekers! This guide will equip you with resume keyword examples across various industries, along with expert tips on how to integrate them into your resume.

Why Resume Keywords Matter:

1. The Importance of Resume Keywords

Resume keywords are specific terms and phrases that highlight your skills, experience, and qualifications. They help recruiters and applicant tracking systems (ATS) quickly identify and match your skills with the job requirements. By including relevant keywords, you increase the likelihood of your resume being noticed and considered for the position.

2. Examples of Resume Keywords

To help you get started, here are some examples of resume keywords that you can use to showcase your skills and experience:

  • Soft Skills: Communication, Leadership, Teamwork, Adaptability, Time Management, Creativity, Problem Solving, Empathy, Resilience, Attention to Detail, Analytical Skills, Decision Making, Confidence, Integrity, Accountability, Initiative, Persistence, and Enthusiasm.
  • Hard Skills: Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), Adobe Creative Suite, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, Python, C++, Java, Agile, Scrum, Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, Data Analysis, Data Visualization, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Networking, and Programming Languages.
  • Industry-Specific Keywords: Finance (Budgeting, Financial Analysis, Investment Banking, Risk Management), Marketing (Branding, Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing), Human Resources (Recruitment, Employee Engagement, Performance Management, Training and Development), Sales (Lead Generation, Sales Strategy, Customer Relationship Management, Negotiation), and Information Technology (Network Administration, Database Management, Software Development, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing).

3. Strategic Placement of Keywords

To maximize the impact of your resume keywords, it's essential to place them strategically throughout your document. Here are some tips for incorporating keywords effectively:

  • Summary Section: Include a few of your most relevant keywords in your summary section to quickly highlight your skills and experience.
  • Skills Section: Create a dedicated skills section to showcase your hard and soft skills. Use bullet points to make it easy for recruiters to scan your resume.
  • Experience Section: Incorporate keywords into your job descriptions to demonstrate how you have applied your skills and experience in previous roles.
  • Education Section: Include relevant keywords to showcase your academic achievements and qualifications.

4. Avoiding Overuse of Keywords

While it's essential to include relevant keywords in your resume, it's equally important not to overuse them. Overusing keywords can make your resume appear unnatural and spammy, which may deter recruiters and ATS systems. To avoid overuse, follow these tips:

  • Avoid repetition: Avoid repeating the same keywords multiple times in the same section.
  • Use synonyms: Use synonyms and variations of keywords to showcase your skills and experience in different ways. ATS can pick up close variations of keywords. So, feel free to use similar phrases and keywords.
  • Focus on relevance: Only include keywords that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

5. Customizing Your Resume for Different Positions

To maximize the impact of your resume keywords, it's essential to customize your resume for each job you apply for. By tailoring your resume to the specific job requirements, you can demonstrate how your skills and experience align with the position. Here are some tips for customizing your resume:

  • Review the job description: Carefully review the job description to identify the most relevant keywords and skills.
  • Use a tool that allows for quick editing of your resume or an analysis of the best keywords to select - like Crackerjack Resume!
  • Tailor your resume: Tailor your resume to include the most relevant keywords and skills from the job description.
  • Use a consistent format: Use a consistent format for your resume to make it easy for recruiters to scan and compare your skills and experience with other applicants.

6. Leveraging Resume Keywords in Your Job Search

In addition to incorporating keywords into your resume, it's essential to leverage them in your job search. Here are some tips for using keywords to boost your job search:

  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile: Incorporate relevant keywords into your LinkedIn profile to increase your visibility and attract recruiters.
  • Use job search engines: Use job search engines that allow you to search for jobs using specific keywords.
  • Network with professionals: Network with professionals in your industry to learn about job opportunities and gain insights into the skills and experience required for specific roles.

Examples of Powerful Keywords:

Now, let's get down to the juicy stuff - examples! But remember, context is key. Don't just stuff your resume with random words. Use them naturally within your experience and skills sections.

**Advice - we included soft skill examples below, but we advise job hunters to use hard skills in their resume experience and skills section. Use soft skills inside of cover letters or during the initial screening conversations

Soft skill Keywords:

  • Communication: Active listening, public speaking, negotiation, interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving: Analytical thinking, critical thinking, decision-making, conflict resolution
  • Leadership: Team management, delegation, motivation, mentoring, coaching
  • Technology: Software proficiency (e.g., Python, Excel, Photoshop), hardware knowledge, digital literacy
  • Adaptability: Flexible, quick learner, open to change, results-oriented

Hard skill Keywords:

  • Marketing: SEO, SEM, social media marketing, content marketing, campaign management
  • Finance: Financial modeling, budgeting, forecasting, risk management, accounting software
  • Healthcare: EMR/EHR systems, patient care, medical terminology, HIPAA compliance, specific procedures
  • Software Development: Programming languages (e.g., Java, C++), agile methodologies, cloud computing, software testing

Quantifying Your Impact:

Beyond just listing skills, quantify your achievements with numbers and metrics. This helps the ATS understand your value and impresses hiring managers. We advise adding a “how” to the hard skill keyword to show the strategy you employed. Use the statements below for reference:


  • Increased website traffic by 20% through a hyperlocal programmatic SEO program
  • Managed a budget of $50,000 and achieved cost savings of 15% through an SLA program
  • Reduced patient wait times by 10% by implementing a triage ticketing system
  • Generated 10,000 app downloads in 3 months by building a referral download program


  • Don't stuff your resume with keywords: Use them naturally and strategically throughout your resume, including your summary, skills section, and work experience descriptions.
  • Focus on achievements: Don't just list skills; showcase how you've used them to achieve results. Quantify your achievements whenever possible (e.g., "increased sales by 20%").
  • Tailor your resume to each job: Don't use a generic resume for every job application. Analyze each job description and tailor your keywords accordingly.
  • Proofread carefully: Typos and grammatical errors can make your resume look unprofessional and decrease your chances of getting noticed.


By strategically incorporating relevant keywords into your resume, you can increase your chances of being noticed by recruiters and ATS systems. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can create a powerful resume that showcases your skills and experience in a compelling and relevant manner. Remember to customize your resume for each job you apply for, and leverage keywords in your job search to maximize your chances of success. With this guide and powerful keyword examples, you're now equipped to craft a resume that shines brighter than ever before. Remember, your resume is your story, told strategically with the right keywords, unlocking your true career potential. Go forth and conquer, job seeker!

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