How to Use Keywords in Your Resume

It’s tempting (and often encouraged) to send out one resume on multiple applications. After all, you poured hours into that thing to make sure it looks right–it even has the right font. The danger to that is missing out on the opportunity to pack your resume with specific keywords that recruiters are looking for. So what are those keywords? Luckily, right in front of you, scattered throughout the job posting. Here’s a quick guide on how to use them to your advantage.

1. First, scan the job description. This one is for  a Retail Store Manager:

  • Customer Relations: Ensure customers enjoy a great shopping experience; Ensure that store personnel are responsive to the needs of your customers and treated with utmost respect; Meet and greet customers; Educate customers on products and services.
  • Staffing: Recruit, hire, train, and manage employees; Schedule work assignments and hours.
  • Employee Development: Support employees with customer service training, product training, and encouragement. Ensure personnel are well versed in store procedures to ensure efficient and quality operations


2. Use the exact same keywords, in the exact same order if possible, in your work experience details. If you have the relevant experience, this is where you want to hit hard and show off your mettle. The keywords embedded into the “duties and responsibilities” section are pretty much HR standard for that industry and role, so you’ll see them repeated over and over.

  • Recruited, hired, trained, and managed 15 employees; executed schedule of work assignments
  • Greeted customers and educated customers on technology products
  • Delivered employee support through customer service training and product training
  • Supervised staff members to ensure efficient and quality operations
3. Scan the “minimum qualifications” section. If you don’t have “relevant” experience to the job you’re applying for, these are the keywords you want to “copy” in your resume; they are general qualifications and competencies instead of job duties and can be used to emphasize transferable skills.


  • High Level of Independent Judgment in Inventory Management, Merchandising, Personnel Management and Customer Relations
  • Problem Solving Skills and Attention to Detail
  • Excellent Organizational and Interpersonal Skills
  • Flexible Availability, Including Weekends and Holiday

Your resume could list:

  • Exercised high level of independent judgment in customer relations, reducing bounced call rates by 40%
  • Exhibited attention to detail by updating and editing customer service manual
  • Commended for flexible weekend and holiday availability, maintaining quality customer service during peak seasons

Notice that these qualifications are bolstered with specific examples.

Of course, people can smell keyword stuffing a mile away, so put thought into it and make them your own. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll be unlocking those opportunities in no time.

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