Where to Place Resume Keywords

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Keywords are important in on-line resumes. A resume that lacks the proper keywords will yield little chance of an interview if it's evaluated in digital form. The trickier question is: Where is the best place to put the keywords in your resume?"

The possibilities are daunting. You can sprinkle keywords throughout. You can have a separate keyword section. You can put keywords in your profile or professional summary. Or you can use a combination approach. The paradox of choice!

Placing keywords at the very beginning is a good idea. Keywords represent the important, industry specific language and "insider talk" that will get immediate attention from a hiring decision-maker. I like resumes that start with a profile or professional summary. Including keywords in that section is always a powerful approach.

Should Keywords Get Their Own Section?

Should you list keywords in a separate section? Yes and no. Keyword summary sections give you an opportunity to include modifications of a keyword that will not easily integrate into the resume. Repetition makes for a keyword-rich resume, which is a good thing. Keywords sprinkled throughout your resume usually take the form of nouns coupled with action verbs, such as: "managed the trading desk." Keyword sections, on the other hand, are usually just a list of nouns. Having both can give you the flexibility to say something important two different ways for impact.

However, don't sacrifice other sections to include a separate keyword section. I strongly prefer resumes with an "Interests" section, for example, because it gives the interviewer a non-business point of conversation which may work in a positive way for the applicant. Who knows, you may both love football, or music. Don't underestimate the importance of chemistry. While an automated resume scanner won't care about football, the hiring manager might. I would not include a separate keyword section if it means leaving out your interests. But if you do have room, go ahead and have the section in addition to the words scattered throughout.

Where Can You Find Them?

Because keywords represent skills and experience an employer is looking for in an applicant, the best places to find words that reflect those skills are in job postings, job descriptions, industry blogs, newsletters and Web sites. Track the words you see over and over - those are most likely keywords.

Keeping common industry acronyms is a good idea too. If a word or acronym is not easily recognizable to someone outside the industry but completely familiar to an insider, include that word. The Boston College career center advises: "The best source of keywords is the actual job listing, which is likely to contain many, if not all, of the keywords that an employer will use to search the resume database."

Summing up, a job-seeker has some freedom of choice about placement of keywords, how often and in what form. If you keep in mind that keywords are an integral part of an excellent resume that will get you noticed, you'll be able to use that leeway to your advantage.

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