Resources for Job-Seekers for Identifying Resume Keywords

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by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

In our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness, we discuss the importance of keywords and how you should use them in your resume. We note in that article that best way to identify keywords for a particular job is to scrutinize job postings, a subject we cover in our article, Researching Keywords in Job Postings. This article describes other ways to find keywords.

As you go through the process of identifying keywords, considering using our Resume Keywords Worksheet.

Ideas for Identifying Resume Keywords:

  • Visit the meetings and Websites of professional associations in your field to look and listen for current buzzwords.
  • If you are working with a recruiter or headhunter, that person can be an excellent source of keyword tips.
  • Consult government publications such as The Occupational Outlook Handbook at libraries or online.
  • Visit company Websites. See The Quintessential Directory of Company Career Centers
  • Imagine you were writing an ad or job description for the type of job you seek; what keywords would you use?
  • Research and incorporate into your keywords the company culture and values of employers you are targeting. Read our article Uncovering a Company’s Corporate Culture is a Critical Task for Job-Seekers. Note especially the company’s mission statement and look for ways to quote it in your resume and/or cover letter.
  • Scrutinize news stories in trade magazines relevant to your work.
  • Join online discussion groups and chat rooms that relate to your field and observe the words professionals are using in their discussions.
  • Read annual reports from the companies you’d like to work for.
  • Conduct informational interviews at companies you want to work for and listen for the jargon and buzzwords that your interviewees use in talking about the company and its jobs.
  • Talk to human resources professionals.
  • Use Web search engines, such as Google and Bing, to search for job descriptions.
  • Visit online specialty sites defining acronyms and technical jargon.

Websites that Provide Resume Keywords and Keyword Resources:

Job-Search Keyword Books:

Gain additional insights into how you can improve your resume and succeed with ATS using these free Applicant Tracking System Tools for Job-Seekers.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

Katharine Hansen, PhD, Creative Director Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

Have you taken advantage of all the many free resume tools, articles, samples, and more that we have in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers?