The Key to a Good Resume

Have you ever wondered what the key to a good resume is? You’ve spent hours perfecting your resume, but you feel like there’s just something missing. Is it the font? Your layout? The design? Maybe it’s even your career summary or your skills section? Did you quantify enough in describing your experiences?

All of these are crucial to a good resume, but if I really had to boil it down to one key factor that makes a good resume, I would say it comes down to words. Keywords to be exact.

What’s a keyword, you ask? A keyword is a word or phrase—maybe a certain skill or verb or title or task—that your potential employer uses in their job description. There are usually many of these.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Spend about 15-30 minutes studying the job description.
  2. Take a highlighter to any skills or tasks or verbs that are really important to the position.
  3. Then go back through your resume and see how you can incorporate these keywords.

You’re going to use words in your resumé, so why not use the ones that you know they’re looking for? If the job description uses the word “manage” 3 times, don’t use the word “lead” every time. Try to incorporate “manage” in a variety of different ways. If they specifically mention that you need to be able to run reports, be sure to mention that at your last job you ran X number of reports.

Be sure to use the exact spelling, capitalization, and punctuation for these keywords as well. So if they mention that you need to have “CRM” experience, don’t write “C.R.M.” or “Customer Relationship Management.” Just to be safe, I would write “Customer Relationship Management (CRM),” that way you hit the keyword that they’re looking for, but you also spell it out just in case. 

Now here’s an important point: don’t lie just to match up to their job description. Whether it’s a Applicant Tracking system or a human looking at your resume, they’ll be able to tell when you’re just copying and pasting the job description and lying about your qualifications. Be honest, but also be smart enough to use their language in the way you describe yourself.

This helps in two main ways:

  1. If they use an Applicant Tracking System, it will see the keywords it’s looking for and send you through.
  2. If it’s a person, they won’t have to work hard to see that you meet the qualifications for the position.

Using keywords in your resume is maybe the simplest thing you can do to give yourself a leg up on the competition, but the vast majority of people have never even thought about doing it. Give yourself a huge edge and use keywords.

Or better yet, let us do it for you. All of our resumes and cover letters are keyword optimized so that we can help you get the job you want!