Writing a resume is an important part of your job search. To stand out, you need to integrate pertinent phrases that will be detected by employers and recruiters.

This article covers the most effective ways to use keywords for your resume to get noticed.

From this article, you will find out:

  • What keywords are;
  • Why they are important to be included in the resume;
  • What is an ATS system and how it works;
  • Why hiring managers use ATS and keywords to find qualified applicants.

Finally, the article will provide keyword lists for various resume sections and industry-specific keywords. Keep on reading to help you craft a resume that is unique and attractive!

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What are resume keywords?

Keywords for resume

Keywords for resumes are terms and phrases that employers search in applications to determine to find qualified candidates. These words identify the most important skills, qualifications, and other characteristics that are desired for the role.

Often you can find keywords in the job description as well as look for industry keywords online. Inserting these significant words into your application papers could increase the likelihood of being considered for an interview.

When hiring managers search through resumes, they often use certain criteria to filter out job seekers who don't meet their needs. These criteria include resume keywords.

  • For example, if a company is looking for a software engineer, they may seek a resume with words such as "Java programming", "Web development", "SQL Database management", etc.

To ensure your resume passes the scanning, you have to investigate the sector you are applying to and the particular company you are sending your resume. This includes not only talking about technical abilities relevant to the job but also interpersonal skills such as communication and problem-solving.

Some jobs may use certifications or licenses as job keywords. Hence, make sure you know the requirements and mention all applicable credentials.

Overall, using keywords for a resume is an essential part of catching hiring managers' attention. The key phrases assist employers in rapidly distinguishing applicants who meet their criteria and excel above the competition.

Types of resume keywords

1. Job titles

Reflects the specific roles or positions you've held or are applying for.

2. Skill keywords

Showcases both your technical abilities and soft skills relevant to the job.

  • Technical Skills: Python, SQL, AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop
  • Soft Skills: Leadership, Communication, Problem-solving, Time Management

3. Industry-specific keywords

Demonstrates your knowledge and experience in a particular sphere.

  • Examples: HIPAA compliance (for healthcare), GAAP (for accounting), SEO (for digital marketing)

4. Action verbs

Highlights your achievements and contributions in a dynamic way.

  • Examples: Developed, Managed, Implemented, Analyzed

5. Educational qualifications

Indicates your academic background and areas of study.

  • Examples: MBA, BSc in Computer Science, PhD in Physics

6. Experience-related keywords

Specifies the length and type of experience you have.

  • Examples: 5+ years of experience, Internships, Volunteer work

What is an ATS?

When recruiters search for candidates, they use a combination of automated systems and manual searches. These systems are programmed to look for specific terms in resumes.

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of software used by employers to help them manage job postings and candidate applications. This system works by scanning through resumes for terms that align with the job description.

ATS are usually used by big companies that receive hundreds and thousands of applications and cannot physically go through all of them. If a resume does not contain the right words, it will not pass the screening and the hiring manager will not even see that candidate's information.

How does the ATS work?

ATS software filters through hundreds of resumes for a given job opening, looking for words that match the requirements set by HR. These terms can be spotted in the job title, skills, qualifications, and other sections of the resume. If it finds enough matches, then the applicant's resume is sent to HR for consideration.

The Applicant Tracking System also helps track how many people applied for a job and which ones were successful. This information can be used to analyze recruitment trends and help employers make decisions about future hiring efforts.

Proofread your resume carefully to ensure there are no typos or errors that could cause it to be overlooked by ATS software. By using relevant keywords and ensuring accuracy, you can give yourself a better chance of making it past the first round of screenings.

What is RMS?

RMS (Recruitment Management System) is a broader system that encompasses various aspects of the hiring process beyond just applicant tracking.

In addition to the features offered by an ATS, an RMS may include functionalities related to workforce planning, talent acquisition strategy, employer branding, onboarding, and performance management.

RMS often integrates with other HR systems such as human resource information systems (HRIS) and talent management software to provide a comprehensive solution for overseeing the entire employee lifecycle.

In summary, both ATS and RMS are used in recruitment. An ATS is more focused on managing the applicant tracking process, while an RMS offers a broader range of functionalities for managing the entire recruitment lifecycle.

How to pick keywords for a resume?

Your resume must incorporate strong keywords that will help you pass an automated screening process. Choosing the right terms is an important step in getting ahead of other applicants.

Here are some suggestions to help you select good resume words:

    1. Read job descriptions carefully. The best way to find keywords for a resume is to look at job postings in your field. Check what employers look for in the candidate. Add any relevant words that can highlight your qualifications and professional background.
    2. Research field-specific terms. You should also employ terms particular to the industry that those in your profession understand and recognize. These will distinguish you from other applicants with less experience.
    3. Use action words for the resume. Utilize powerful verbs such as "managed", "facilitated", or "executed". These words exhibit to employers your initiative and experience to take on responsibilities. Take advantage of keyword-rich sections like a summary or work experience to exhibit your strongest sides.
    4. Describe your skillset. Stress your technical and interpersonal capabilities. Professional hard skills as well as transferable soft skills are both valued by employers. In addition, include words that describe your accomplishments and performance review.
    5. Tailor the resume to each job. Ensure that you adjust your resume keywords for each vacancy you apply for. This will guarantee that your resume matches the required qualifications.

You surely want your resume to be special. Therefore, it is imperative to stay away from generic and overused phrases. These words may sound impressive at first glance, but they do not add any value to your resume.

For example, the phrase "hard-working" does not explain how you achieved success in a certain project or task. Instead of using generic terms, try to use specific examples of what you have done at a previous job.

If you're seeking a teacher's role, you might write "instructional strategies" and give examples of such techniques. This will help effectively showcase your proficiency in employing effective teaching methodologies and highlight your suitability for the position.


  • Do not forget to use keywords in your cover letter. Even though this part of your application does not go through the ATS software, it also has to be relevant.

By following this advice, you will be able to pick the best keywords for your resume and make it easier for hiring managers to find you during automated searches. Building your resume while using the right keywords can increase your chances of getting an interview!

Resume keywords

Recruiters are always on the lookout for certain ATS keywords when reviewing resumes. This helps them quickly identify if a candidate meets the requirements of the position.

  • The same keywords that were used in the job posting. This will show that you have done your research and understand their desired criteria.
  • Industry-related keywords. For instance, if you are seeking a job in finance, include keywords like "investing" and "financial analysis."
  • Skill-based positive keywords. To reflect your abilities, use words like "collaboration," "leadership," and "critical thinking" that will refer to your transferable skills.

When describing your experience, use strong keywords related to the tasks you have completed. For example, if you have managed a team of people, ensure that you include: "managing," "coordinating," and "supervising".

By incorporating such resume keywords, you will be more likely to make a lasting impression amongst other applicants and be recognized by recruiters.

How to identify keywords?

1. Analyze job descriptions

First of all, gather several job descriptions for the positions you're interested in. Identify recurring terms, phrases, and skills that are mentioned across these job listings.

2. Use job description tools

  • Jobscan: A tool that helps you compare your resume against job descriptions and suggests relevant keywords.
  • Resume Worded: Provides keyword suggestions and optimization tips based on job descriptions.

3. Industry-specific keywords

Include jargon, technologies, tools, and certifications specific to your job sphere. Review terminology used by professional organizations or in industry publications.

4. Online resources

  • LinkedIn: Look at profiles of professionals in similar roles and note the keywords they use.
  • O'NET Online: A comprehensive database of job descriptions and the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for each role.

5. Incorporate naturally

Use words naturally within sentences. Avoid overloading your resume with keywords without context.

6. Highlight achievements

Combine keywords with measurable achievements (e.g., "increased sales by 20% using digital marketing strategies"). Numbers and data provide clear evidence of your contributions.

Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to better structure your accomplishments.

Where to use the resume keywords?

Powerful resume keywords can guarantee that recruiters and hiring managers will notice your resume. Below is an explanation of how to incorporate relevant industry keywords into different sections of your resume.

Resume Summary

A resume opening statement is your first opportunity to leave a mark on a possible employer. It should be concise, clear, and attention-grabbing. Ensure you utilize strong keywords that describe your expertise and are related to the job description.

Work Experience

This segment has to present to hiring managers that you are capable of performing the tasks outlined in the job posting. Therefore, studying keywords in the job description and inserting them into your resume will show how your experience meets the hiring requirements.


Including job-related keywords in the academic section of the resume will help showcase to employers the credentials you have and how they match the requirements. Be certain to list particular resume keywords and phrases associated with the educational background necessary for your field.


The area of expertise listed on your resume is often the most important part of your document and can be the deciding factor for landing a job interview. Incorporate positive keywords associated with the vacancy that best illustrate the skills you have.

Resume keywords list by industry

Below you will find keyword lists for certain professional fields to help you come up with ideas of what good resume words you can use.


  • Strategic planning
  • Process improvement
  • Relationship management
  • Financial analysis
  • Cost reduction
  • Market analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Decision making
  • Team building
  • Negotiation skills
  • Goal setting
  • Change management

Computer Science/Information Technology

  • Programming languages
  • Networking
  • Software engineering
  • Data analysis
  • Systems administration
  • Cloud computing
  • Database management
  • Security
  • Tools & technologies
  • Application development
  • Debugging & troubleshooting
  • Data structures & algorithms
  • Cloud computing
  • Testing & quality assurance

Customer service/retail

  • Courteous communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Positive attitude
  • Customer experience
  • Merchandising
  • Inventory management
  • Point of sale (POS) systems
  • Loss prevention
  • Customer relations


  • Classroom management
  • Curriculum development
  • Instructional strategies
  • Assessment
  • Technology integration
  • Collaborative learning
  • Patience
  • Imaginative thinking
  • Mathematics, science, and other subject

Electrical Engineering

  • Circuit design
  • Power electronics
  • Testing & troubleshooting
  • Prototyping
  • Programming
  • Industry standards
  • Software applications
  • Project management
  • Robotics & automation
  • Data analysis

Health Care, Medicine

  • Medical terminology
  • Patient assessment
  • Diagnosis & treatment
  • Healthcare administration
  • Electronic medical records (EMR)
  • Clinical research & trials
  • Pharmaceuticals & Dispensing
  • Medical coding & billing
  • Infection control & prevention
  • Quality assurance & compliance
  • Informatics & technology

Human Resources

  • Performance management
  • Employee relations
  • Talent acquisition and retention
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Recruitment & selection
  • Conflict resolution


  • Legal analysis
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Contract negotiations
  • Conflict resolution
  • Litigation support
  • Client representation
  • Appellate advocacy
  • Research & writing
  • Compliance auditing
  • Case management


  • Quality assurance
  • Production optimization
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Automation
  • Process improvement
  • Cost reduction
  • Assembly line management
  • Compliance regulations
  • Troubleshooting expertise
  • Health and safety protocols
  • Resource allocation
  • Inventory control

Marketing and Media

  • Digital media and SEO
  • Marketing strategy
  • Brand development
  • Networking
  • Public relations
  • Marketing automation tools
  • Content creation
  • Social media management
  • Video production
  • Graphic design
  • Advertising

Tourism and Hospitality

  • Destination knowledge and marketing
  • Travel industry regulations and standards
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Hotel management
  • Event planning
  • Cultural awareness
  • Tourism analysis
  • Customer service
  • Social media marketing
  • Public relations
  • Tourism development
  • Risk management
  • Sales & revenue generation


  • Logistics planning
  • Fleet management
  • Supply chain optimization
  • Risk management
  • Route and load optimization
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Delivery scheduling
  • Driver safety protocols
  • Network mapping
  • Scheduling software expertise

Information Technology (IT)

  • Programming languages (e.g., Python, Java, JavaScript)
  • Software development methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum)
  • Operating systems (e.g., Windows, Linux, macOS)
  • Database management (e.g., SQL, NoSQL)
  • Network administration (e.g., TCP/IP, DNS, DHCP)
  • Cybersecurity (e.g., firewalls, encryption, penetration testing)


  • Fundraising strategies and donor relations
  • Grant writing and proposal development
  • Nonprofit financial management
  • Program evaluation and impact assessment
  • Volunteer recruitment and management
  • Nonprofit governance and board development
  • Advocacy and public policy
  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Nonprofit marketing and branding
  • Social entrepreneurship


  • Architectural design software (e.g., AutoCAD, Revit)
  • Building codes and regulations
  • Sustainable design principles (e.g., LEED certification)
  • Construction project management
  • Structural engineering concepts
  • Architectural drafting and detailing
  • Site planning and landscape architecture
  • Building information modeling (BIM)
  • Interior design principles
  • Architectural history and theory

Fitness and Wellness

  • Personal training techniques and exercise programming
  • Nutrition and dietary counseling
  • Group fitness instruction (e.g., aerobics, yoga)
  • Fitness assessment and goal setting
  • Wellness coaching and behavior change strategies
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation
  • Sports medicine and exercise physiology
  • Fitness technology (e.g., wearable devices, fitness apps)
  • Client motivation and accountability strategies
  • Workplace wellness program development


  • Drug discovery and development process
  • Regulatory affairs and compliance (e.g., FDA, EMA)
  • Clinical trial management and protocols
  • Pharmacovigilance and drug safety monitoring
  • Biomanufacturing and quality control
  • Pharmaceutical marketing and market access
  • Medical affairs and scientific communications
  • Bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Intellectual property and patent law
  • Pharmaceutical supply chain and distribution

Keywords for resume by skills

Words for Leading People, Projects, and Tasks

  • Team leading
  • Project management
  • Supervision
  • Facilitation
  • Motivation
  • Strategic planning
  • Organization
  • Delegation
  • Creative thinking
  • Vision

Words for Boosting Sales/Revenue

  • Results-driven
  • Relationship-building
  • Analytical thinking
  • Strategic marketing
  • Negotiation
  • Goal-oriented
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Client acquisition/retention
  • Pipeline management
  • Cross-selling
  • Up-selling
  • ROI (Return on Investment)

Words for Improving a Process

  • Process optimization
  • Planning
  • Risk mitigation
  • Data analysis
  • Troubleshooting
  • Customer service
  • Teamwork

Action Words for Resume

  • Develop
  • Design
  • Organize
  • Implement
  • Manage
  • Innovate
  • Lead
  • Cultivate
  • Streamline
  • Maximize
  • Optimize
  • Pioneer

Words for Research, Analysis, and Business Decision-Making

  • Analytical
  • Research
  • Strategic
  • Data-driven
  • Quantitative
  • Creative
  • Problem solver
  • Resourceful
  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Survey design
  • Focus group moderation
  • Literature review
  • Data mining

Words for Saving Money or Resources for the Company

  • Cost savings
  • Process optimization
  • Resource management
  • Data analysis
  • Innovation
  • Negotiation
  • Financial management
  • Regulatory compliance

Technical Skills

  • Programming languages (e.g., Python, Java, C++)
  • Software development
  • Database management
  • Web development
  • Network administration
  • Cybersecurity
  • Systems analysis
  • Hardware troubleshooting


  • Agility
  • Open-mindedness
  • Resilience
  • Willingness to learn
  • Embracing change
  • Adjusting to new environments
  • Handling uncertainty
  • Multicultural sensitivity


  • Collaboration
  • Team building
  • Relationship building
  • Conflict resolution
  • Active participation
  • Group decision-making
  • Supportiveness
  • Flexibility in roles


  • Idea generation
  • Problem-solving
  • Design thinking
  • Innovation mindset
  • Experimentation
  • Out-of-the-box thinking
  • Artistic skills
  • Continuous improvement

Common mistakes

When listing resume keywords, it's essential to be strategic to ensure your document gets noticed by applicant tracking systems and human recruiters alike.

Here are common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Overstuffing. While it's important to include relevant keywords, overloading your resume with them can make it seem unnatural and may trigger suspicion from ATS systems. Focus on quality over quantity.
  • Using irrelevant keywords. Including keywords that aren't directly related to the job you're applying for can dilute the effectiveness of your resume. Tailor your keywords to match the specific requirements of the job.
  • Neglecting synonyms. Different companies may use different terminologies for the same skill or qualification. Make sure to include variations and synonyms of relevant words to increase the chances of matching the job description.
  • Forgetting soft skills. While technical skills are essential, don't overlook personal qualities. Many employers value traits like communication, teamwork, and leadership. Incorporating these soft skills as keywords can enhance your resume's appeal.
  • Not proofreading. Spelling or grammatical errors in your resume can detract from its professionalism and may cause ATS systems to overlook your application. Always proofread your resume carefully to ensure accuracy.


Should I include a "keywords" section in my resume?
While a dedicated section is not necessary, integrating relevant keywords seamlessly throughout your resume is essential. Incorporate keywords naturally within your resume's sections, such as the summary, skills, and others.
Should I tailor my resume with different keywords for each job application?
Yes, adjusting your resume with keywords specific to each position is essential. Customizing your resume demonstrates your genuine interest in the position and ensures alignment with the employer's requirements, increasing your chances of being selected for an interview.
What are the consequences of not using keywords in a resume?
Not using keywords can result in your resume being overlooked by ATS, leading to missed job opportunities. Without the right keywords, your resume may not rank high in search results, reducing its visibility to potential employers.
Can I use synonyms of keywords in my resume?
Yes, incorporating variations of keywords can enhance the relevance of your resume. However, ensure that the meaning remains consistent and accurately reflects your skills and qualifications.
Should I prioritize specific keywords over others in my resume?
Prioritize keywords based on their relevance to the job description and your proficiency in those areas. Focus on including keywords that best highlight your qualifications and align with the employer's requirements.
How many keywords should I include in my resume?
There is no set number of keywords to include in a resume. Instead, focus on quality over quantity by selecting keywords that directly relate to the job requirements and effectively showcase your qualifications.
Are there any keywords that are universally beneficial across all industries?
Certain keywords, such as communication, problem-solving, and adaptability, are universally valued across industries. Including these versatile keywords in your resume can demonstrate essential skills applicable to various job roles.
How often should I update the keywords in my resume?
Regularly review and update the keywords in your resume to reflect changes in your skills, qualifications, and job market trends. Updating your resume with relevant keywords ensures its continued effectiveness in capturing the attention of employers.
Can I use keywords in my resume if I'm a recent graduate or have limited experience?
Yes, recent graduates or individuals with limited experience can still leverage keywords in their resumes. Focus on highlighting relevant skills, internships, coursework, and volunteer experiences that align with the job requirements.


Using keywords in a resume can help ensure that it stands out among the competition. It aids employers in swiftly recognizing a candidate's qualifications and experience for a position.

When choosing keywords, pick those that reflect your professional qualifications, accomplishments, and skills. Additionally, use industry-specific language that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

Finally, incorporate and ensure to include pertinent words in all parts of your resume to maximize the chances of being noticed by employers.

By selecting and positioning your keywords carefully, you can set yourself apart from the competition.