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Resume

How Keywords Open Doors for Your Resume

Which terms are the right resume keywords and how to use them in a resume?

By Matthew Rothenberg
Resume

A professional resume is a machine with many moving parts. It reminds me of a sophisticated robot designed to negotiate treacherous terrain — the surface of Mars, a hostage situation — to deliver information or acquire a target.

In the course of most senior-level job hunts, your resume will need to navigate past three obstacles to achieve its mission: It must get through a preliminary scan by applicant tracking system (ATS) software; it must match the specifications a human-resources (HR) staffer has been given; and it must demonstrate the professional depth and expertise to satisfy the hiring manager for whom you’ll be working.

At each turn, your resume will continue its journey or stall based on its basic components: the keywords you’ve chosen to represent your qualifications.

HR pros (and search-engine technologists) use the term “keyword” glibly. But how can you know which words are the right ones and how to use them in a resume? In this package, Lisa Vaas speaks to the experts to get real, tactical advice on how to make those choices. (Be sure to check out the list of the most popular keywords recruiters have searched on TheLadders.)

Matthew Rothenberg is the Editorial Director of TheLadders.

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