resume keywordsYou have the experience and prepared a resume that you feel has excellent content in support of your skill set. But for some reason the phone isn’t ringing and your inbox is empty. Of course, there can be lots of reasons. Maybe you’re mired in a sluggish economy. Perhaps your industry and profession is going through transition. Or it could be that something on your resume is sending off red flags. But in 2015, if you are qualified for your target, sending out multiple resumes, and not getting calls, it is likely that your resume needs a keyword refresh.

In the digital age, applicant tracking systems play a huge role in weeding out what it perceives to be the “pretenders” in order to identify the true “contenders” for the vacancy. If your resume does not contain the proper strategic mix of keywords of value for the position in question, then you have lost at the start of the race.

Here are some strategies for ensuring the proper resume keywords to score well in databases:

Resume Keywords Tip 1: Use Job Descriptions As A Research Tool

If you are trying to identify resume keywords without considering the job description, you are missing a valuable targeting opportunity. If the job description has enough detail, it will give you clues as to what should appear in your resume. Go through the job description and highlight what appears to be buzz words that are unique to the position and/or industry

Resume Keywords Tip 2: Beware the Soft Skills Trap

When settling on resume keywords for your document, you want to ensure that you isolate the wheat from the chaff. What I mean by that is that you want keywords unique to the position or the industry.

But keep the focus on the hard skills and stay away from the vague, crossover soft skills that don’t do anything for your candidacy. For example, the phrase “communication skills” is not really something that is likely to show up as a keyword in many databases. Why? Because it is an understood concept employers want from an employee. Also, if everyone would claim it (when it is obvious not everyone has it), then it scores no points with the database or reader. Stay relevant and job-specific wherever you can.

Resume Keywords Tip 3: Don’t Forget Your LinkedIn Profile

The thorough job search will consist of more than just the resume. Your LinkedIn Profile has to be keyword rich as well to ensure recruiters and hiring authorities seeking talent can find you easily. If you are not on LinkedIn, then fix that. NOW! Recruiters have a very heavy presence on LinkedIn and you can really be missing out on opportunities if you are absent. LinkedIn allows you to select skills for endorsing by your connections. 20 to 30 are enough. But the right ones, along with well-written profile and job description content, can mean the difference between recruiters knocking down your door and a profile mired in obscurity.

Remember, in the 21st century, optimized resume keywords is not an option, it is a necessity. Re-target wherever you can for each submission and keep the resume keywords fresh with regard to the target. Do so and watch those contacts and interview requests come in.