By now virtually everyone who is or has recently been in the job market is likely aware of the importance of keywords in career communications, whether it be your executive resume, your LinkedIn profile, or the cover letter you send along with your resume.
But what exactly are keywords? Keywords can actually be single words or phrases that pertain to your job skills, personal and leadership qualities, and interpersonal skills. They can be nouns, noun phrases, or action words. They are often divided into “soft” and “hard” skills, with the soft skills being such things as rapport building, collaboration, team building, etc., and hard skills being closely related to your job category or field of expertise, such as computer programming, supply chain management, sales/marketing management, manufacturing operations management, etc.
Highlighting keywords in the opening or profile section of your resume is very important, as is liberally sprinkling your executive resume throughout with pertinent soft and hard skill keywords. There are a couple of key reasons for this:
1) They help ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) and resume database search engines to match your capabilities with those of a particular position opening.
2) They speak compellingly to your reader, showing them how eminently qualified you are for the job they are looking to fill.
Once you have woven soft and hard skill keywords into your profile or summary, using them in constructing your resume’s work history entries is key. They should be included in both the role descriptions and the accomplishment statements.
To make your inclusion of keywords most effective, you’ll want to lead your sentences with results-focused action words that verify that you possess key “soft” skills your potential employer may be looking for, while taking care to include in your statements some of the hard and soft skills you have highlighted in your profile or summary. (Examples of action words include “improved, increased, created, analyzed, organized, led, decreased, revamped, assessed, brainstormed, achieved, escalated, produced, generated,” etc.)
You can also make a great impression through use of action words that validate others’ appreciation for your work, such as “promoted, praised, selected for, honored, awarded,” etc.
While some important skills are common to many job categories, particularly soft skills such as team building, leadership, and organization, hard skills keywords do vary substantially.
A Sales/Marketing Executive’s hard skills keywords might include:
Account Relationship Management
Key Account Management
New Market Development
New Product Launch
Sales Training & Team Leadership
Trend Analysis & Forecasting
and so on.
While a Senior Finance Executive’s might include:
Mergers & Acquisitions
Cash Flow Management
and numerous others.
Keywords are also known as “buzz words.” As noted previously, they can be nouns/noun phrases or action words. Their function is to show that you possess the knowledge and capability to deliver outstanding performance and results in your field of expertise.
For more information on executive resume writing techniques, strategies, and samples, see: