Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Resume SEO Part 1: Pump Up the Keywords Without Turning Off Recruiters

How do you add keywords to your resume and still make it readable? The secret is to insert keywords in places that help both recruiters and search engines to quickly skim your resume and determine if you're qualified.

What is Resume SEO? Recruiters use keyword searches to mine for resumes in job boards and resume databases. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for resumes means including enough of the right keywords in your resume so that your resume gets picked up by search engines during a keyword search.

Define keyword. Keywords are nouns, phrases and buzzwords or jargon that detail your skills and relate to the position or industry. Examples: MS (Microsoft), PM (product manager), SQL Server, HR (human resources), MBA, technical writer, data delivery, administrative assistant, developing, creating.

Keyword dumps don't work. You may be tempted to try to trick the search engines into putting your resume at the top of the list by dumping a load of keywords on the first page. When I see a keyword dump and no real experience on the first page of a resume I assume that this person is not qualified.

How to Balance Keywords with Readability
  1. Add Keyword Summary section to your resume: It's probably best to limit this to less than 50 keywords. Section out the Keyword Summary with the same formatting that you use to define sections in the rest of your resume. This enables the recruiter to quickly skim the heading and move to the next section.
  2. Insert a Technical Environment description (or Skills Summary list) with each job in your Employment Experience section. Use a subheading to separate this list from the list of skills and accomplishments for that job. The Technical Environment/Skills Summary helps recruiters determine what specific skills you used for each position.
  3. Insert a Technical Skills table that shows all programs, software and technical skills you know well and the number of years of experience you have with each. IT recruiters love these tables because it helps them quickly figure out if you have the required number of years of experience.
  4. Within your description of each position in your Employment Experience section highlight specific capabilities such as technical skills, communications skills, organizational skills or management abilities you demonstrated in that role.
  5. Use different keywords forms. If you use “coordination” in your Skills summary, use “coordinate” in the body of your resumé. Use both full keywords and acronyms.
  6. Don’t go overboard! Your resume still needs to be readable.
Read Next: Resume SEO Part Two: Keyword Resume Template

Tim Collins


  1. Thanks for sharing, I like your Keyword selection part..
    Keep posting

    SEO India

  2. I appreciate your comment. Thanks!