Monday, August 23, 2010

Resume Hints - Keywords

Recently I have a presentation at an event that had a few college students. Afterwards one of them came up to me to ask about their resume, and mentioned that they had been told to include the keywords at the top of their resume, and then list stuff below that. In the presentation I had talked about putting them at the end of your resume, and having a good opening instead that lists your accomplishments.

I was surprised to hear that this college career center had thought keywords made sense at the beginning of the resume, but perhaps they’re thinking about different keywords.

If you search for “resume keywords”, you get lots of lists and advice about using words like “accelerated” and “balanced” and other words that don’t often get used in normal conversation, but have a bit of power.

That’s fine, and feel free to use them, but that’s for prose, for writing about what you’ve accomplished. Those are words that punch up your writing. In technology, however, keywords are often skills you have. You wouldn’t want to do this:


Steve Jones

123 My St

Denver, CO 80111

Objective: xxxx


  • C++
  • Java
  • .NET
  • SQL

As someone that’s received lots of resumes, this isn’t interesting to read. Typically if I need a C++ person, I used a search method to get to your resume. Now I want to know what you’ve done with C++.

Keywords are needed for those search programs, but those programs don’t care where the keywords are. Humans that will to scan your for 30 sec don’t need to see them. You want that 30 sec to count, so make sure that the first few things that a person reads stand out.

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