The Power of Keywords: How to Tailor Your Resume for Applicant Screening

Resumes that win employer attention are those that uniquely stand out. If you want your CV to stand out, populate it with keywords. However, you should not add any keyword that comes into your mind. Choose phrases and words that are industry-relevant. In resume screening, keywords play a critical role. Most employers screen resumes electronically.

They use the Applicant Tracking System to scan specific keywords. Specifically, they scan for words and phrases related to the job. If you want employers to find you fast, do not underestimate the power of keywords. They increase opportunities for you to get invited for an interview. You should learn how to tailor your resume to pass the applicant screening process.

Understanding Applicant Screening

Every time a company posts a job ad, thousands of people send applications. Surprisingly, most of them might have the exact requirements. To give everyone an equal chance, brands perform applicant screening. They use different Applicant Tracking Systems to perform this process. This is the initial part when shortlisting who to call for an interview.

The purpose of applicant screening is to evaluate the qualifications of different applicants. The hiring managers subject each resume to intensive scrutiny. It helps them determine the most qualified person for the job. This is the point where keywords become important. You must strategically use keywords throughout your resume. Focus on tailoring the keywords based on the job advertisement at hand. It increases the chances of passing the Applicant Tracking Systems. The keywords should highlight details such as:

●          Your academic qualifications

●          Your working experience

●          The key soft skills you have

●          How you fit into the job role

For inspiration, you can check some samples online and or even on YouTube videos and other social media posts. The ones you like can easily be saved as videos. You need to know how to record the screen on iPhone and save the best samples in a separate folder. Use the ones that are inspiring and check all the boxes in terms of keyword usage to clear ATS evaluations.

Identifying Relevant Keywords

Novoresume data shows Applicant Screening Systems rejects 75% of resumes. The main reason for the rejection is due to lack of relevant keywords. The words or phrases you use should resonate with the specific job requirements. Include your abilities, experience, values, and skills an employer is looking for. There are different strategies for identifying the most relevant words to use.

Understand What Systems Scan Your Resume

Your CV has been scanned by different Applicant Tracking Systems. Each job market might use a different system. Understand that the RTS relies on keywords. Tailoring the right keywords helps the system to find your CV.

Scan A Job Ad For Keywords

When brands post job ads, they include specific requirements.


Go through the description and highlight words and phrases that stand out. When tailoring your CV, include the phrases and words that you highlighted.

Separate Your Keywords

List your words and phrases in two columns. In one column, write all the experience-based words. Next, write all skills-based words. It will help you ensure you add them in the right places.

Customize Your Resume

Now that you have the right keywords, start tailoring your CV. If you already have your resume ready, update it with the new keywords. You may include keywords such as:

●          Creativity

●          Communication

●          Time management

●          Project management

●          Leadership

●          Computer literacy

●          Education

●          Finance

●          Law

●          Healthcare

Carefully Assess Job Descriptions

The purpose of job descriptions is to ensure clarity of employer expectations. Furthermore, it provides you with a view of work duties, style, and expected attachments. It is important to carefully review each job description. See if your skills and qualifications fit into the requirements. Again, descriptions help you identify crucial keywords spread across the text. If you understand them you can easily get the job.

Incorporating Keywords In Your Resume

Keywords show hiring managers that you are fit to take the job. You should not use them to just pass the Applicant Tracking Systems. Use them also to attract hiring managers. Include your relevant competencies and credentials. You must ensure the words and phrases you use are industry specific.

For instance, if you are applying for a customer service job, you might add words such as:

●          Problem-solving

●          Customer Management System

●          Computer literacy

●          Experience in order entry

When using keywords, you must be:

●          Specific to the job you are applying for

●          Distribute your keywords across the entire resume

●          Use the right keyword for each section. That is, have keywords for education, skills, and experience.

To increase your chances of getting hired, it is important to balance your keywords. Do not stuff too many words and phrases. Avoid using irrelevant words because it harms your CV.


Your resume will look unprofessional and spammy. Instead, spread your keywords across your resume. Besides that, be keen on how to use them and where you use them.

Showcasing Achievements And Skills

Employers want to know what special abilities you can bring to the company. They desire to know if you have the right qualifications for the job. This is why it is important to quantify your resume. Provide proof of what you have accomplished. Additionally, show what impact you had on your previous jobs. Add awards and achievements to your CV. If you have received any honors, awards, promotions, or scholarships, add them.

For instance, in your past job, you might have created a digital marketing strategy. If it worked, explain how much revenue it generated for the company. You might have organized a fundraising event that worked. Explain how much it raised in donations. Such specific accomplishments can make your CV stand out to hiring managers.


Keywords in a resume are critical in getting your resume to stand out. It increases your chances of getting a job. They are words or phrases that show you are qualified for the job. Additionally, the words and phrases help your resume pass the RTS screening. The hiring manager sees the skills you have and invites you for an interview. To boost your chances of getting hired, it is important to read the tips provided here. Also, apply them when writing your resume to help employers notice you fast.