‘Key words’ is a phrase that describes and defines skills that are crucial or ‘key’ to an applicant’s serious consideration for a job.  How you use words on your resume and LinkedIn Profile are essential to the presentation of your unique skills, accomplishments and experience.   Here are some tips on where to find,  how to use, and where to insert ‘key words’ into your resume and LinkedIn Profile.

So What Are ‘Key Words’?

‘Key’ as defined by Webster is ‘that which serves to reveal, discover or solve.’  For job seekers, ‘key words’ designate or ‘reveal’ the significant skills that match the terms and phrases in a job description or posting.  Key words are essential in communicating how you meet the requirements of any job.

How to Find Your Key Words

How to Find Your Key Words

‘Key words’ help make you as the job applicant memorable. Integrated within a resume or LinkedIn Profile, ‘key words’ become ‘searchable’, meaning you will be ‘discovered’ by a recruiter and ‘solve’ the dilemma as to ‘Who is the right candidate for this job?’

‘Key words’ are the words and phrases Recruiters, hiring managers, LI connections type into a filter to conduct a search.  You want them to find you, so use the key words unique to the job to which you are applying.  The more often a particular matching word or phrase appears in your resume or LinkedIn Profile, the more likely it is that you will appear in recruiter searches when they scan for that key word or phrase.

Why you as the job seeker use ‘key words’ is to capture the attention of the reader.  Once you are ‘discovered’ by the recruiter searching for key words in a resume or LinkedIn Profile, he/she will want to learn who you are and what you have to offer.

The Importance of ’Action’ Verbs

One of my favorite actions verbs to use in resumes is ‘Ignites’.  It is visual in that the job applicant is perceived as the spark that makes things happen.  ‘Ignites’ conveys a powerful image with motion, color, speed and beauty all rolled into one word.  Action verbs create an image in the mind of the reader that helps him/her visualize you not only doing the job, but excelling.

LinkedIn’s 10 most overused words for 2013 are creative, organizational, effective, motivated, extensive experience, track record, innovative, responsible, analytical and problem solving.

If you love any of these key words, it is a good time to grab the thesaurus and find a substitute of equal value to you.

Word of caution: try not to be redundant and overuse one or more of your selected action verbs.  Limit the use of any one key word to three (3) times.

Where Do I Find Key Words?

Key words of importance to a company will be included in the ‘Key Values’ and ‘Mission Statement’ listed on a company website.  The Annual Report is another source for commonly used company key words. An excellent source for key words is the posting of the job to which you are applying.

The necessary skills or ‘key words’ will be interlaced throughout the posting often multiple times.  Search for postings and advertisements of jobs that are of interest to you.

Past job interviews are a great source for key words.  What words were common threads throughout your interviews?  Do these words relate to your current job search?

Review your Performance Evaluation for skills and accomplishments necessary for success. Visit industry association websites with commonly used words in your field and area of expertise.  And LinkedIn Profiles of connections and colleagues in your target industry, field and role.

Incorporating Key Words

Include multiple key words in the top 1/3 of your resume as this is the section of concentration when read by a recruiter and hiring manager. These key words should be reflective of your most honed skills and notable accomplishments throughout your career and work history.

The decision to move you forward in the selection process is made within 3 to 5 seconds, the time it takes to visually scan the top sections of a resume.

Thread additional key words throughout the body of your resume and include them in the summaries and accomplishments of each job documented on your resume.

For your LinkedIn Profile, insert key words into your Heading and throughout the text of your Summary.

If you would like to ask questions about key words and how to best to use them in your resume and LinkedIn Profile, please contact me at Marcia@thejobsearchadvisor.com.  Or simply leave a comment at the end of this post.