Top 3 Reasons Keywords Will Make Or Break Your Resume

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Top 3 Reasons Keywords Will Make or Break Your Resume

April 28, 2019 | Michael Howard

Tag: Resume Tools7

When it comes to resumes, words matter. This seems obvious. But what isn’t obvious is, behind this very simple phrase, there are several technological reasons that highlight just how much words matter.

I will share the top three reasons why keywords will make or break your resume.

The Resume Journey

In order to provide these reasons, we must explore the process your resume goes through when you submit it to a typical employer. This will give us the story behind what has put keywords in the position to matter so much. And along the way, the top 3 reasons why keywords can make or break your resume will reveal themselves.

In today’s technological environment, a typical employer has application tracking system (ATS) software that manages the application process. The software’s first function is to scan an applicant’s resume in order to extract its contents into a database. Here is the first juncture in which words encounter technology. Keywords at this stage are not in play.

Resume Formatting

But the next step in processing your resume reveals the first way keywords have an affect on your resume. The employer’s ATS system applies a layer of context by assigning a category to words or phrases based on formatting and their position within the resume. For example, the words underneath the heading of “Education” are grouped accordingly. Same goes for other sections such as “Experience,” “Skills” or “Summary.” If the resume is formatted in a way that bolded words or words in all caps represent a heading, different ATS systems can mis-assign keywords positioned before or after these words. This is the first way in which keywords can make or break your resume.

Matching Resume Keywords

Next, an employer’s ATS system will match keywords on your resume to the ones deemed important from the job posting. What’s important here is whether there are any matching keywords, how many do match compared to total possible matches and then count of individual matches. This is the most vital of all three reasons keywords can make or break your resume. As many matches as possible is needed as well as several instances of matches to add strength to those matches. If there are very few matches, your resume will not get past the ATS system.

Score and Ranking Your Resume

Finally, the ATS system will now score your resume and rank it against other applicants. What matters here is to what extent you optimized your resume to the job posting. If you didn’t tailor your resume to the job posting at all, your resume will surely be rejected. If you manually tailored it, you have a better chance. The best method to achieve optimal keyword matches is using a resume optimization tool like With such a tool, keywords are extracted from your resume using the same data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence used by the ATS systems.

Optimize your Resume and Opportunities

In a job market that is saturated with tech-savvy candidates, you cannot be left behind in your resume optimization efforts. Use tools like that give you and your resume the best chance possible to get through an employer’s ATS system.

Appropriately armed with these tools, you will find opportunities come more easily. Doors previously closed are opened. With this comes more choices. Choices are power. Power is freedom. It doesn’t get better than this. Happy job searching!