Why you need to be a (key) word nerd.

I had a longish conversation with a job seeker today. Much of the chat related to resume key words. He had no idea what I was talking about when I asked the question:

"Does your resume contain key words relevant to your industry and your specific job?"

It made me realize that, while it's a rather elementary topic to those of us who search for, read, and dissect dozens of resumes every day? Many of you don't realize how vital key words to your overall job search.

They. Are. Vital.

Why?  Because that is how we recruiter types find you when we're searching databases that house your (and the 150 bazilion others that do similar things as you) resume. These databases are called things like: Monster, Linkedin, Careerbuilder, and Google.

If you've got a resume sitting anywhere online, ya gotta think through the key words.

A silly little example that shall demonstrate my point


When a recruiter or hiring manager needs a project engineer who also knows how to design automated machinery using AutoCAD software, guess what types of search terms they're using?

"Project Engineer," "Machine Design," "AutoCAD," "Automation."

If you have these skills, but haven't put the key words on your resume? They don't find you.

It's just that simple.

So the $64 million question is: What the heck words are most important for your industry and/or job?

My two cent answer?: I don't know for sure.

But I do have a pretty good suggestion:

Pull 5-7 job descriptions off of


(or similar job boards) -- jobs that are within your field, and ones for which you'd be perfect. Doesn't matter if they're in your geography, nor if you intend to actually apply for them. Just do a search and find "the perfect fit" kinds of jobs.

What search terms do you see in the job descriptions? Which ones repeat across two, three or five of these examples?

And there you go. Grab 'em. Stick them into your resume (in ways that make sense, of course. And no lying!). Key word issue resolved.

Now, if you want to get massively involved and strategic with this, Google "resume key words" and you'll find about 591,000 other opinions. You can practically earn a degree in Boolean search methods if you really want to pull out the stops. But IMHO, this is a really simple way to greatly increase the odds of your resume being found for the types of jobs you want.

Otherwise? Good work, Grasshopper. It's Miller time.