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Using Resume Keywords in Recruiting

Author: Dave Rietsema - Matchr CEO

Resume keywords have almost single handedly transformed the hiring process at countless numbers of companies. Resume keywords make it possible to sort through hundreds of resumes in an Applicant Tracking System in a matter of seconds, picking out the ones that best fit with a company’s needs and storing the rest for later review or for reporting purposes. How do resume keywords work, though, and how can you use them to optimize recruiting?

Highlighting a Specific Qualification

Keywords are commonly used to find all of the employee candidates that have applied that have a specific qualification. For example, if the company is looking to hire a human resources specialist, the recruiter may input “human resources” so that only resumes detailing some type of human resources experience will come up. It may be helpful to search acronyms and synonyms (such as “HR”) just so that no qualified candidates are overlooked simply because of the exact wording used on their resumes.

Filtering Out Unqualified Candidates

Resume keywords can be used to quickly filter out candidates that do not have the qualifications that you are looking for. By inputting “Bachelor’s degree,” you may filter out all of the candidates that do not have this level of education. As with qualifiers, however, it is important to also input “master’s degree,” “Bachelor’s of Science,” and other terms that may mean the same thing or signify even higher education levels so that these candidates are not overlooked.

Location Keyword Use

If remote work will not work for your company and you actually need an employee to come to a certain location every working day, it may help to filter out candidates that are not from the local area. It is important to input all of the surrounding towns so that you don’t miss a highly skilled employee candidate that lives close, but in a small town not picked up in the search. You may also need to input the county and the general location (like “Western Massachusetts”).

Spinning from a Job Posting

When in doubt about which keywords to use to sift through a batch of resumes, keep the keywords very close to the job posting. Savvy applicants understand how resume keywords are used, so they alter their resume to fit with what the job posting specifies. By conforming to this norm, you may find some of the most knowledgeable candidates, as they obviously know how to work with twenty-first century technologies.

Track Your Resume Keyword Use

After you have used resume keywords to soft through a batch of resumes, track the keywords that you used and note which candidates came up. As you compile data about your keyword use and recruiting, this information may become valuable. You can review the keywords side by side with the candidates after a time, using the data to figure out how effective certain keywords were at netting your company top talent.

Using keywords to quickly sort through all of the resumes submitted through an applicant tracking system is one way that ATS are helping to optimize recruiting. By better understanding how keywords work and how to use them to single out top talent, you may raise the hiring standards at your company.

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