How to Stand Out in the Crowd: Use Keywords in Your Resume

These days, the job market is flooded with candidates. So, to stand out in a crowd, job seekers have to be as informed about the jobs they apply for as a consumer who is purchasing a new car. Just as a car buyer knows to talk about all of the vehicle options they desire, a job candidate must be able to speak the language of a company’s recruiters.

The most important place for you to insert this language, or keywords, is on your resume. What is a keyword, you may ask? Keywords are typically nouns that reflect the job-related skills that a company may be looking for, including technical and industry related language.

For a company, using keyword search technology speeds up the hiring process and ensures that the right candidates make it to the interview process. At Sodexo, our recruiters use keywords to find the best possible talent for our open positions.

I want to share just a few ways to use keywords in your resume that will bring favorable results in your job search.

Read job postings, Learn the lingo

Read the job postings carefully. When you identify words that describe you and the skills you possess, put those words in your resume. For example, an ad for a chef position may state that the ideal candidate understands “recipe compliance,” or can follow a recipe. So, it would be good to include those exact words on your resume if you were applying for the job.

For students, entry level postings might include words like “prepare proposals,” “customer service,” “manage inventory” or “manage projects.” Include words on your resume that will show that you have done what is expected in the role.

Learn buzz words

Look for buzz words related to the industry for which you are applying. Use words from that specific industry, including technical terms, and speak of your related technical expertise and mention specific skills.

Mention “soft skills”

Don’t forget about soft skills such as communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills. They should be included on your resume.

Don’t forget the extras

Especially for students trying to build their experience, list all the hardware and software that you know how to use. Don’t forget to include job titles, current or past employers, languages, international experience, any certifications or awards that you received, and a list of professional organization memberships. These are all areas where recruiters might incorporate key words into their searches.

Tailor your resume and key words for each job

The keywords for each job – and each company – may be different. So, you want to update your resume specifically for each job you apply to. Not only will this position you as a serious candidate, but it will show the recruiters that you are not spamming the company with your resume; your keywords and qualifications will match the jobs that you apply to. For example, at Sodexo in our Health Care business, we use the term “environmental services manager” for someone who oversees cleaning and housekeeping services. At another company, this term may mean an entirely different set of responsibilities.

Use keywords throughout your resume

Many experts advise that your keywords should be throughout the resume. Don’t forget to include them in your Summary of Qualifications section or your Professional Profile section. Students who may not have had a great deal of work experience should still include keywords but relate them to the learning environment.

If you will take the time to add keywords to your resume, it is likely that your resume will rise to the top quickly and your phone will not stop ringing. Good luck.


Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires.

Related posts:

  1. Stand Out in a Crowd
  2. Your Resume: Make It Stand Out!
  3. Is Your Resume Lost in Translation?

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