The Best Resume Words Are Lurking in Job Descriptions

Get a better understanding of what exactly an employer is looking for, and use those insights to put some extra shine on your job application.

The Best Resume Words Are Lurking in Job Descriptions

Targeted resume words can help you get noticed.

If you've been searching Monster job postings for a golden career opportunity, you don't have to look too far for a helping hand. Job descriptions themselves offer valuable guidance on which resume words to use to best position yourself as a strong, competitive candidate.

Job descriptions can vary from company to company—even if you're searching for one particular job title—so you have to know how to interpret the information in front of you. Primary tip: Note the keywords used and be sure to use the same words in your application materials.

Why? Because many recruiters and HR professionals use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to pre-screen resumes for applicable words related to the job's requirements. They do this to narrow down the number of applicants, which can grow to be in the thousands depending on the popularity of the open position. A recruiter doesn't have time to look through all those resumes one at a time, so they rely on ATS to pull the most relevant for (human) review. By using the same words in your resume that you see prominently displayed in a job description, you're increasing the odds that you'll pass the screening test and move on to the next round.

Obviously, this entails that you customize your resume words to each position you plan on applying to. This is key. You can't use one resume for each job because the keywords will differ from job to job according to what you uncover in each job description.

For more, we broke down the parts of the job description that are most likely to contain the best words to use on a resume so that it leads to a signed offer letter.

Resume Words: Where to Find Them in Job Descriptions

1. The Company Description

How this can inform which resume words you use: The description of the company helps you learn more about the company culture and how well it syncs with your personality.

A company describes itself as it wants to be seen, and from that, you can get clues as to what the company values, what you should research, and what kinds of questions you should ask in an interview.

For example, if a company describes itself as "a rapidly growing athletic brand for busy young professionals," you can infer that the company sees itself as energetic, youthful, and poised for success. If that matches your personality, then describe yourself similarly in your cover letter.

On your resume, you could incorporate the phrases "rapidly growing" and/or "busy young professionals" to establish that alignment.

Then, once you score an interview, investigate the financial health of the sporting goods industry, design trends, the current generation's buying habits, and competitors. In general, it's smart to research the following

  • the industry
  • the particular position
  • the company's customer base
  • challenges
  • interests
  • goals

Use what you learn to write up some interview questions that demonstrate you've done your homework. This research also helps you understand the business better from the perspective of the company.

2. The First Few Bullet Points

How this can inform which resume words you use: They usually map out the bulk of your duties.

Hiring managers frequently front-load job descriptions with the most crucial responsibilities of the job. As you get further down the list, the bullets more than likely represent a smaller percentage of the job duties and requirements.

To stand out to potential employers, make sure your resume elaborates on your skills that mirror the duties mentioned in the top bullet points; you can simply list your skills that align with the job description's lower-level bullet points.

For example, if a job description's top bullet requires "advanced knowledge of medical terminology" or "the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with stakeholders and the public," those exact phrases should appear in either your career summary or work history.

3. Required Experience/Skills

How this can inform which resume words you use: They tell you what to highlight on your resume and cover letter.

As with required duties, job descriptions will list the most valuable skills and experiences at the top of the list. Your resume and cover letter should follow suit. Why? Because most employers will try to hire the person who will need the least amount of training.

It's smart to use your accomplishments to address each of the required skills and/or work experiences and to put this information on your resume first. For each major accomplishment, create bullet points that describe:

  • the challenge presented to you
  • the actions you took
  • the results of your strategic efforts

For example, if the job description says you need "extensive experience in staffing," you might use that exact phrase and mention that you researched and implemented the launch of a new applicant tracking system that helped accelerate hiring times by 25%.

Find Jobs Tailored to You

Finding a new job is all about finding the right fit, for both you and an employer. While a job description can show you how you can present yourself as a good fit for the company by using targeted resume words, there are other ways of finding jobs that are tailored to your skills and experience. Need some help discovering them? Step one is making a free profile on Monster. We can connect you to recruiters and send you job alerts that would be a good fit. Don't take chances. Let Monster play matchmaker and do some of the job-search work for you.