Resume Keywords – Understanding Keywords For Resumes

It was only a few years ago (that is, pre 2005) when companies largely relied on human eyes to scan resumes and serve as screeners. Candidates could wow those humans eyes with action verbs alone, like “Implemented blah blah blah…,” and “Developed this and that…,” and “Conducted yada yada…”.

Those were the days. A simpler time. Porch swings and Andy Griffith come to mind. Jump cut to the present. The internet has changed everything and companies are now awash in resumes. To cut through the clutter and lend some sense of order to the candidate selection process, corporations today have to digitize the resumes of job seekers, warehouse those resumes in databases, and employ specialized software to search those databases to identify prospective candidates for position vacancies. What do those programs search for? Primarily what was implemented and what was developed and what was conducted. While action verbs are still important, the focus has shifted to the nouns. Welcome to the age of keywords – nouns (largely) that relate to the action performed.

Action Verbs, and their associated Resume Keywords – Real World Examples

In the following examples pulled from various professions, the action verbs should be fairly obvious. Their associated keyword nouns are underlined for example purposes.

– Designed and implemented JIT inventory control system.

– Managed successful product launch of a brand generating first-year sales of $5.5 million.

– Developed documentation to ensure compliance of Manufacturing Execution System.

– Designed interactive voice response language system tailoring customer service to clients’ unique needs.

– Developed and delivered diversity training modules.

– Exceeded targeted ROI (return on investment) by 50%.

– Designed and conducted customer needs assessment, increasing account retention rate by 20%.

– Established profitable vendor partnerships.

Keywords, Buzzwords and Jargon

Definitions, please. Keywords are most often industry-specific jargon or buzzwords. A keyword can be a single word, or a phrase. Jargon is technical terminology used by people working in a common profession or industry. A buzzword is jargon that has broken free of it’s industry and has begun to see use in wider society.

As a side note, buzzwords are sometimes appropriated by nonspecialists with the intent to impress listeners without having a real grasp of the terminology. Not good. Don’t be caught using words you have no business using. Be aware of the fact that you will need to be able to back up your use of buzzwords/keywords on your resume. Most likely in an interview – assuming your resume gets you that far.

Resume Keywords – You’re Invisible Without Them

The bottom line: keywords are a necessity on today’s resumes. Without keywords, your resume won’t get picked up by the automated database scanners, and you become the invisible candidate. Learn the relevant keywords for your particular industry and make sure they fit you well. Then plant them strategically in your resume.

Become visible. Become hired.

Acting Tip: Acting Resumes, Cover Letters, and Headshots, Oh My!

If you want to really stand out as an actor (and I think you do), you will have to make your resume stand out for you.

Your resume, cover letter, and headshot are really the first impressions you’ll ever make. They act as your agent–good ones get you auditions, bad ones don’t…

So, how does one go about standing out from the rest of the crowd? Well, first of all, you have to think like a marketer. What makes YOU interesting and unique as an actor? This is you USP (Unique Selling Point). Your resume and cover letter act as your USP…

In order to make your resume and cover letters really effective, you must follow a few simple guidelines:

For your resume, divide the page into two parts–one part for your actual resume, one part for testimonials (yes, testimonials!). Testimonials should be from former directors, playwrights, etc. and they shouldn’t be hard to get. Just ask! (but be sure to get their permission to use their testimonial on your resume) Include the name and position of the person underneath each testimonial quote.

If you are just starting out, include EVERYTHING acting-related on your resume–list every acting job you’ve ever had–no matter how small or big the part (yes, even the non-speaking parts!). Remember, you are trying to fill out your resume–list as much as you can. As time goes by, pick off the less glamorous acting parts and replace them with the true gems that highlight your best work.

Include a small thumbnail headshot of yourself on your resume. This will ensure that if your headshot and resume ever do get separated, your photo will be forever intact ON your resume.

Actors have little time to spend on marketing themselves–let alone anything else non-acting related. For this reason, you should have two form letters ready to go at all times–one for theater, one for film/television. Keep it short and sweet. Your letter should include a brief introduction, your purpose for writing in, your recent endeavors, and a friendly closing. For example, my cover letter states: I’m writing you today because I am very interested in auditioning for your play (or ‘film’ or ‘project’–depending on what you’re submitting for) . I know your time is valuable, so I’ll make this short: I would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to review my headshot and resume and let me know if you’d like to meet with me. Again, your letter should include your most recent or current work (try to include pictures within the body of the letter), what classes you’re taking, etc. Then wrap it up with something short and sweet like: Thank you for your time and consideration. I’d love to meet with you. I can be reached at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I hope to hear from you soon. And then, sign your name to it.

When sending a headshot and resume via email, use the same cover letter used in regular mailings–simply cut and paste it into the text portion of your email (remember, you’re trying to save time, so make it easy on yourself!). Don’t forget to attach your headshot–and make sure to size the headshot appropriately.

Headshots should look like how you look right now. If your headshot doesn’t look like how you look now, get a new one…

You don’t have to spend a big chunk of change on a reputable, big deal, bells-and-whistles photographer to get a nice headshot. Just look around and find someone who has a pretty good portfolio and low prices. I got my headshot done by a photographer who was just starting out. I got a great deal on my headshots and she used my images in her portfolio. A win-win situation!

Get an 8″ x 10″, black and white headshot (which is standard).

I recommend keeping it simple–your clothing, jewelry, etc. You want YOU (not your clothing and accouterments) to stand out.

That wraps up our section on resumes, cover letters, and headshots. I hope this section has inspired you to make your HS/resume kit brilliant!

175 Power Verbs and Phrases for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

While you’re revamping your resume or cover letter or constructing your proof-by-example stories for interviews, you’ll find you need to watch your word choice. Why? Communication is powerful if the words we use to communicate are powerful. That’s not all it takes, but the right words make for a good beginning.

So as you craft achievement statements or write paragraphs that sell your skills or draft interview responses to knock the employers’ socks off, consider these suggestions:

  • Use verbs in active tense, not passive tense.
  • Use verbs that convey power and action.
  • Use verbs that claim the highest level of skill or achievement you can legitimately claim.
  • Use verbs to accurately describe what you have done on the job.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly, but when you use them, use them well.
  • Use nouns that are as specific and as descriptive as possible.
  • Use numbers whenever possible.
  • Use the most impressive (and still honest) form of the number you use.
  • Never lie! It IS NOT worth it. It WILL catch up with you.
  • Proofread all your verbs and nouns for agreement, tense and appropriateness.

Here, then, are 175 powerful verbs and phrases to make use of in resumes, cover letters and interviews:

  • abated
  • abolished
  • accelerated
  • accomplished
  • achieved
  • actively participated
  • administered
  • advanced
  • advised
  • aggressively analyzed
  • applied
  • assumed a key role
  • authored
  • automated
  • built
  • hired
  • closed
  • coached
  • co-developed
  • codirected
  • co-founded
  • cold called
  • collected
  • co-managed
  • communicated
  • completed
  • computerized
  • conceptualized
  • conducted
  • consolidated
  • contained
  • contracted
  • contributed
  • controlled
  • convinced
  • coordinated
  • cost effectively created
  • critiqued
  • cut
  • dealt effectively
  • decreased
  • defined
  • delivered
  • designed
  • developed
  • developed and applied
  • directed
  • doubled
  • earned
  • eliminated
  • emphasized
  • enforced
  • established
  • evaluated
  • exceeded
  • executed
  • exercised
  • expanded
  • expedited
  • facilitated
  • filled
  • focused
  • formulated
  • fostered
  • founded
  • gained
  • generated
  • ground-breaking
  • headed up
  • helped
  • identified
  • implemented
  • improved
  • increased
  • initiated
  • innovated
  • instituted
  • instructed
  • integrated
  • interviewed
  • introduced
  • investigated
  • lectured
  • led
  • leveraged
  • maintained
  • managed
  • marketed
  • motivated
  • negotiated
  • orchestrated
  • organized
  • outmaneuvered
  • overcame
  • oversaw
  • penetrated
  • performed
  • permitted
  • persuaded
  • planned
  • played a key role
  • positioned
  • prepared
  • presented
  • prevented
  • produced
  • profitably
  • project managed
  • promoted
  • proposed
  • prospected
  • protected
  • provided
  • published
  • quadrupled
  • ranked
  • received
  • recommended
  • recruited
  • reduced
  • removed
  • renegotiated
  • replaced
  • researched
  • resolved
  • restored
  • restructured
  • reversed
  • satisfied
  • saved
  • scheduled
  • scoped out
  • selected
  • self-financed
  • set up
  • sold
  • solved
  • staffed
  • started
  • stopped
  • streamlined
  • substituted
  • supervised
  • taught
  • tightened
  • took the lead in
  • trained
  • trimmed
  • tripled
  • troubleshooted
  • turned around
  • upgraded
  • yielded

While you certainly can use the list anytime you’re looking to say something in a more powerful way, you can also use it to help jog your memory about accomplishments on present and past jobs that you might otherwise overlook. Also, consider using the list to help you refine your resumes and cover letters to be more powerful in their presentation and communication.

Functional Resumes- Is a Functional Resume The Best Choice For Your Job Search?

Functional resumes are formatted to focus on your skills and experience instead of on your chronological employment history. In this format, you will organize your information under headings representing expertise and experience rather than by job titles.

In straight functional resumes, your employment history is avoided entirely, however this can raise alarm bells with some employers. If this is likely to be a problem, it may be wise to use a combination resume format which includes both functional and chronological components.

A functional resume format is the best choice if you have gaps in employment history, are returning to the workforce after raising children or are newly entering the workforce after leaving school or college.

Functional resumes focus on the functions of your various roles and your job is to highlight the relevance of these functions to the job you are applying for. This means you need to be very aware of the requirements of the job and company you are targeting.

The first step to writing a functional resume is to evaluate the tasks you performed in each of your previous jobs and group them into functional areas.

For example, you may have done a lot of different types of accounting or clerical jobs but within these roles you may have had diverse functions such as training a staff member, liaising with government departments, writing a training manual, supervision, staff evaluation, as well as the functions typically associated with accounting.

It is important to consider all functional aspects of your previous roles as these could well provide the foot in the door you are looking for.

Once you have identified common elements of your skills and experience, you can compare these to the specific requirements of the jobs you are applying for. Re-word them to suit the language and terms used in the selection criteria of your targeted position.

It can be helpful to browse job ads of other similar positions to remind you of work you have done in the past as well as to guide you in how to express your skills and experience in the most appropriate way for your target audience.

If you feel you need some help putting together your functional resume, functional resume templates are available online for download. Simply do an online search to find them. They can save you a lot of time and make the resume preparation process a lot easier.

As with all resumes, functional resumes will need to include your objectives, personal details, experience and skills, education, training and certifications, and a list of referees.

Make sure your resume is printed on white or off-white stock paper with wide margins and one and a half line spacing to make it easy to read. Have a reliable person read it to make sure there are no errors you haven’t picked up.

You now have an effective, functional resume targeted to the job or industry you are aiming for. Once you write a highly targeted cover letter to send with it, you are ready to apply for your job and you have given yourself the best possible chance of obtaining an interview.

Functional resumes are well worth the time and effort it requires to create them. If this format is best suited to your employment history and personal circumstances, using it to write your resume can be the difference between job hunting success and failure.

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