I talk to many clients on a daily basis. And one question pops up more often than others, and that is – What keywords do I need to include in my resume in order to get an XY role? What are the best keywords to have in a resume? How do I pass the ATS? And the truth is there is no one answer to that question.
There are certain skills that every executive should have. But does that mean that every executive would have all the same keywords in their resume? Absolutely not. This can vary significantly depending on the role itself as well as the type of organization. For example, if you are a Chief Information Officer, your keywords and skills would different greatly from the skills and keywords a Chief People Officer needs to include on their resume.
The key is in customization
When it comes to finding a new role, you want to have a clear goal in mind first. A good job search is a targeted job search. There are some steps that you should take first:
- Find three ideal roles that you would like to have
- Identify three industries that you are interested in
- Find out what is the type of organization that you would like to work for
- Do your research
- Activate your network
All of this needs to happen before you start applying anywhere. Once you have a clear goal, you start implementing your job search strategy. After you have identified your targets, you would start with your research. Find 10 potential jobs you would apply for and study them thoroughly. What are their common keywords? What are the key skills required for those roles?
Make a list of all of those skills. Take this one step further, and start reaching out to people that you have in your network. Reach out to people that already have the roles that you would like to have first. What do they identify as key skills needed for the role that they are currently occupying? Add those to your list as well.
Organize and prioritize
Now that you have a list. How many skills have you identified? Do you have a list of 30 skills perhaps? Alright, now you need to prioritize. No one likes to see long lists of skills in a resume, so what we advise our clients to do is to have a list of 15 skills maximum. Those 15 skills would be presented in three columns of five in order to maximize the readability of your content. Once you have your list, you can add it to your resume. Have in mind that you can always further customize this list depending on the role. This is essential for online applications because the ATS will be looking for exact keywords and phrases one could find in a job posting.
What to avoid at all costs
There are some keywords and phrases that a lot of professionals use and yet they mean very little. You want to avoid being vague with any word on your resume because each word counts.
Here are some phrases to avoid completely in a 2022 resume:
- Vague soft skills: Team player, Team leadership, Excellent written and verbal communication skills, Works well under pressure, Highly analytical/organized, Detail oriented, Results oriented, Results driven
- Weak action verbs: Responsible for, Managed, Held, Worked
- Vague adjectives: Creative, Experienced, Successful, Skilled
- These following phrases: Demonstrated success in, Proven results, Duties included
The fact is there is no list of keywords that every professional should have on their resume. But there is a process that everyone should follow when it comes to finding keywords for their resume. This will make your job search easier and faster.
If you need further help with your resume, feel free to schedule a call with me or my colleague.