What Keywords Should You Include in Your Resume?

In today’s world, you have to do more than write a strong resume for recruiters and hiring managers. You must also optimize it for the applicant tracking systems (ATS) they use to first screen resumes.

These systems filter out candidates who are a poor fit and focus on those that are a match, all through keywords. If your resume doesn’t contain the right ones, it’s not going to get into the hands of a human.

How do you know which keywords to use and how often to include them? There are some best practices to follow so you’re taking a balanced approach, one that optimizes your resume without overdoing it. Here are some tips from Future Force, one of the area’s leading office staffing agencies, to help you:

Turn to the job posting.

Review the job posting and use that as your guide to tailor your resume. What are some of the keywords and phrases used in it? You’ll want to replicate those in your resume.

For instance, if they’re looking for an “experienced administrative assistant who can handle last-minute requests,” then include a bullet point on your resume about how you’re “an administrative assistant who’s experienced and flexible when it comes to handling last-minute requests.”

Use keywords throughout your resume.

Keywords should be in the text of your resume, as well as the title of the document. It’s especially important to ensure they’re in the skills section of your resume since this will be the most scrutinized portion. Other areas to include them in are your job titles, professional licenses if you have any, and education.

Don’t stuff keywords.

Keyword stuffing is a common mistake that job seekers make. This includes cramming as many keywords as you can into your resume. It also happens when you list keywords that aren’t a true representation of your abilities, but are geared towards the ATS.

Either way, it’s a risk and could cause you to lose out on the job. Even if you make it through the ATS, your resume won’t be designed for the human reader and will make a poor impression.

Provide context.

Don’t just list a bunch of keywords from the job posting on your resume. You need to provide context and explain how you have experience in these critical areas. For instance, if the employer is looking for someone with “leadership skills,” discuss how you “showcased leadership skills by spearheading a volunteer initiative at your company to support a local not-for-profit.”


Once you’ve added keywords and phrases into your resume, make sure you’re proofreading it. ATS systems can’t find misspelled words, but the humans who review your resume afterward will certainly see them. Don’t let a spelling or grammatical error cost you an interview.

Do you need more resume or job search help?

Turn to the team at Future Force. We’re one of the leading office staffing agencies, serving Orlando and South Florida since 1992. We can help with every aspect of your search, from polishing your resume to getting interviews and offers. Search our jobs now to get started!

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