Online job applications may use an applicant tracking software (ATS) to scan résumé content for viable skills. An ATS can have a variety of parameters including keywords. And keywords can vary for each job posting. How can you find job posting keywords?
Review the job description and search for hard skills and duplicated words. Some hard skill keywords can be planning, initiatives, resource allocation, developing and implementing, scheduling, budgeting, negotiation, and prioritizing.
Search the job requirement sections within a job posting to identify descriptive keywords.
Some ATS can be picky, so résumé keywords should be as stated in a job description to ensure a keyword match. For example, if a job description uses “manage projects” the résumé must also be “manage projects” not “project manager” because the words (including plural, abbreviations, and numbers) are what the software is searching for within the résumé content.
Caution: some common abbreviations, like MBA, may not be processed the same by every ATS. MBA may or may not be the same as Master of Business Administration.
Compare a few job descriptions with the same job title but from different organizations to help identify common job keywords.
Consider using a Word Cloud like Wordle, ABCya! Or TagCrowd to identify job description words used the most. Some of the high use words can be keywords. A Word Cloud gives a visual picture of text showing word duplications in larger font sizes.
Don’t try to trick an ATS by hiding invisible keywords in your documents—it doesn’t work. Some sophisticated ATS have hidden word identifiers, and those applications will be discarded.
Every job posting tends to have some unique keywords. With a little analysis, you can create résumé content that passes ATS parameters. If keywords are not your area of interest, work with a certified résumé writer.