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Research Tools for Resume Keywords

If you are deep into the job search process, you likely understand the importance of populating your resume with keywords relevant to and aligned with the job, career, and industry you are targeting in your search. So, the question becomes, how do you easily and quickly find the right keywords?

The answer is basic internet and networking research. Plan to develop a list containing ten to fifteen keywords mapped to the target position or job posting. Listed below are recommendations on research tools you can leverage to identify keywords for your resume.

🎯 Job Postings:

One of the most reliable sources for keywords is online job postings. For example, if you want to understand what criteria are essential to an organization looking to hire a financial analyst, why not look at actual job postings for financial analysts. A simple Google search for the career or position title will yield a wealth of results. First, review a set of postings from your Google search and then supplement with a review of postings from a couple of the major job boards such as LinkedIn and Indeed. Focus on the requirements section of each job posting. Look for familiar words that appear across multiple job postings from different organizations.

🎯 Industry Articles and LinkedIn Groups:

Read articles from industry trade publications and postings from industry or career-specific groups on LinkedIn. A quick Google search for [Insert Career, Industry or Position Name] followed by the word “Trends” will produce a list of articles that contain the most relevant terms and keywords.

🎯 Professional Networking:

An essential element of your job search process is to build up your professional network. To develop a professional network, you will need to complete exploratory meetings. One of the questions you can include in these conversations is: “Can you share with me 3-5 words or terms that you use most frequently in your job or industry?”

🎯 O*Net Online:

This free web-based tool, sponsored by the US Department of Labor, is designed for career exploration and job analysis. The O*NET online service has detailed position descriptions for job seekers, HR professionals, students, and researchers. Focus on the Occupation Quick Search function. Plug in the job or position title for your target career, and you will see a list of occupations, tasks, skills, and knowledge matching your query. All these resources provide excellent information on the most current and relevant keywords for your target career.

🎯 Word Clouds:

If you are more of a visual learner, you may benefit from a word cloud tool that displays keywords in a visual map or layout. These internet-based tools are typically free and straightforward to use. While each tool is unique, the work process for each is essentially the same. Select a target job description. Copy the text from the job description and paste that text into the word cloud tool. The tool will produce a visual design composed of all the words from the position description. The words with the highest frequency of occurrence will be displayed more prominently on the word cloud map. Most of these tools will also provide a text-based list of the words listing a numerical frequency of occurrence. One of the tools that I have used with clients and recommend is WordClouds.

🎯 Jobscan:

Jobscan is a fee-based online tool that helps you analyze and subsequently optimize your resume as a step in customizing your resume before applying to target positions. One step in the optimization process is the identification of keywords aligned with your target position. Jobscan's platform uses an ATS-like algorithm to provide a numerical score representing how well your resume aligns with the targeted job. I have dedicated a complete section in my Selling You job search guidebook to the utilization of this tool.

🎯 Google Keyword Search:

I saved the most obvious approach for last. You can also utilize a basic Google keyword search. Complete a search for [Insert Career, Industry, or Position Name] followed by the word “keywords” or “resume keywords” in the search bar. This query will produce a list of common keywords associated with the target position. I do not recommend that you rely solely on this strategy.

A Google keyword search strategy is the path of least resistance and will also be used by most of your competition. Your goal is to develop a competitive advantage and separate yourself from your peers. Use the Google keyword search strategy as just one of the many steps in your keyword search process. Compile your final keyword list as a hybrid of the results from multiple research strategies.

For more job search guidance, check out 𝙎𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙔𝙤𝙪: 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘼𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙀𝙙𝙜𝙚 𝙅𝙤𝙗 𝙎𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝 𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙨 available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.


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