Using keywords or buzzwords in job applications and resumes is sometimes frowned upon or seen as “desperate” or “pandering”. But the fact of the matter is, keywords are often the net recruiters use to determine whether a resume even gets looked at.

In the modern hiring world, many companies or recruiters will scan through batches of resumes either manually with a simple Search function or using an applicant tracking system (ATS). It doesn’t matter how well it’s written or designed, if a resume doesn’t appear to have any keywords relating to the job they’re hiring for, it’s likely that it will be passed over. Often this is because a position relies heavily on familiarity with a particular piece of software, or holding a certain level of qualification.

Just getting your resume looked at is half the battle. By following this guide, you can make sure recruiters will land on your resume and cover letter.

Which keywords should you use? 

While this may seem obvious, list your previously held roles. Recruiters will commonly search through resumes for specific job titles, to find people who have already held positions like the role they are trying to fill.

You should also mention any well-known pieces of software related to your industry or well-known industry shorthand names or acronyms, such as Adobe Suite, Office 365, MYOB etc. As well as looking for industry experience, recruiters often are also looking for someone already familiar with the technology used in the position.

Where can you find them? 

An easy way to find relevant keywords is by keeping your eyes open when looking through job postings. If you see the same words being used over and over, work them into your resume – they’re the skills hiring managers are evidently looking for. This doesn’t mean you should just pepper them in like buzzwords regardless of whether or not they fit – make sure to weave them into the skills you’ve developed and achieved in previous positions, to show you already have the qualities they’re looking for.

How can you work them in? 

Rather than listing off keywords and titles in a bullet-point list, you should use them in your career biography and history, to describe the skills and achievements you already hold and the positions you developed them in. Above all else, they should make sense when you use them. Having keywords in your resume might get it looked at by a recruiter, but if they don’t make sense then you’re right back where you started.

What can you add to the cover letter? 

Every cover letter should be tailored to a specific job application – this does take longer than sending out a standardised sheet but it is well worth it. Most job postings will describe the ideal employee they are looking for, so use your cover letter to demonstrate how you are that ideal employee.

When you go through a job application, take note of the skills they are looking for a potential employee to have and try to find somewhere for them in your cover letter. This will not only show that you’ve read the application thoroughly, but also ensure that when recruiters search through applications they will find yours easily.  

RELATED: Resume Template

For further resume and cover letter advice, contact a Page Personnel specialist.


Recruiters often filter through resumes using keywords. Make sure you don’t get filtered out by following this guide:

·         Use industry-relevant keywords such as software names and job titles

·         Find common keywords in job advertisements

·         Work them into your skills and achievements, don’t just list them

·         Use keywords in your cover letter to mirror what the advertisement is looking for

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