Resume Buzzwords and KeywordsRegardless of what you’ve been told, buzzwords and keywords are NOT the same thing. Learn the difference and the importance of using the correct keywords.

Resume buzzwords and keywords are the same thing, right? Wrong.

Resume buzzwords tend to be words (and phrases) that seep into our spoken and written language and become so overused as to become irritating and very often meaningless. Some examples include phrases such as “thinking outside the box” and “pushing the envelope.” Sure, the average person understands what you mean. However, the use of these phrases make job seekers sound uninspired and may leave the listener feeling numb. Additionally, words like creative, detail oriented, and organized, which are lumped together like a laundry list of skills, are so overused on resumes and in cover letters that they no longer have sufficient meaning or impact.

On the other hand, resume keywords are words that candidates can use to further describe their background and help expand their job search. Rather than listing a bunch of buzzwords under a “Summary” section, keywords are like the SEO (search engine optimization) words for your resume. These are the “must-have” words you need to scatter throughout your resume so applicant-tracking software will notice it.

Turning Buzzwords into Keywords

You’ve likely heard this before. The best way to interest employers in your resume is to paint a vivid picture of your work experience. Regurgitating words that you read in a job posting isn’t enough to land the job. You need to articulate what you have done in your career to exemplify these traits.

Instead of linking keywords to your job duties, use them to describe your accomplishments more fully. That means if you are creative, you need to get creative and explain how it relates to your work history. What did you create? How did you create it? It may be that you did some creative problem solving, created a new IT program, or were on the team that created a new product. However you utilized your creativity, tell the employer.

Additionally, use numbers to quantify the extent of your achievements. As the article “Use Numbers to Quantify Your Work Experience and Get a Job” indicates, “The number one reason why employers hire people is not just to do a job, but to perform in a way that will further the organization’s goals. Employers look for people who can help the company be successful.” Quantify how you have been successful in the past by combining keywords and numbers.

Applicant-tracking Software Searches for Resume Keywords

Applicant-tracking software has a feature that allows employers to search their database of resumes based on keywords. Often employers weight the keywords for each position according to the importance to the job. Therefore, generic buzzwords such as creative and organized – skills that relate to a variety of jobs and industries – are not as important as those that are specific to a particular job or industry.

When you create a resume, it is vital to choose keywords that will single you out. Additionally, you need to make sure to include these words in their various forms. For example, manage, manager, and management. And don’t forget to spell out abbreviations at least once.

Another important tip, according to the job-hunt article “How Employers Review Resumes: The Secret for Standing Out,” because of the large quantity of job seekers these days, many larger firms scan resumes directly into their applicant-tracking database prior to having any human eyes review their content. So having the right amount and type of keywords becomes even more important.

That doesn’t mean you should skip on format and quality just to fill your resume with keywords. If you design your resume properly, eventually someone will review it. And chances are that person is a bit more discerning than the applicant-tracking software. They’ll know the difference between overused buzzwords and meaningful keywords.