Resume keyword optimization is a vital part of writing a winning document that is going to get noticed. The majority of employers today utilize complex ATS (applicant tracking system) software and scanning technology that allows them to search large databases of candidates for specific traits, keywords and skills.

Keywords vary greatly by industry, title and career level. Companies are looking for specialists, not industry generalists, so the first step is to identify a “category match”. Create  a separate section in the top 1/3 of your resume that captures the relevant category expertise.

Examples of generic category expertise are terms such as: Management, Operations, Strategic Marketing

Specific, relevant category expertise would include terms such as: Client Development, Relationship Management, Process Improvement

Resume Keyword Optimization

Keep in mind that not all keywords are created equal. Similar to Google search results, keywords are weighted by relevance and exact matches will rank higher.  Carefully read job descriptions and build a list of priority and secondary words to include. You will use these terms not only in the category section, but as you write about your experience, accomplishments and skills.

Remember to not go overboard – your resume or CV might initially by scanned and sorted by a computer, but it will also eventually be read by a hiring manager or recruiter. It must be easily readable, engaging and clearly tell your unique career story.

Action verbs are extremely important as well, not only will the ATS filters search for them, but strong action verbs help to grab the attention of the reader to make your resume stand out from the rest.

You can use the extensive list of resume action verbs below as a starting point to command the attention of potential employers and make sure your resume makes the cut:

A
accelerated, acclimated, accompanied, accomplished, achieved, acquired, acted, activated, actuated, adapted, added, addressed, adhered, adjusted, administered, admitted, adopted, advanced, advertised, advised, advocated, aided, aired, affected, allocated, altered, amended, amplified, analyzed, answered, anticipated, appointed, appraised, approached, approved, arbitrated, arranged, ascertained, asked, assembled, assigned, assumed, assessed, assisted, attained, attracted, audited, augmented, authored, authorized, automated, awarded, avail

B
balanced, bargained, borrowed, bought, broadened, budgeted, built
C
calculated, canvassed, capitalized, captured, carried, out, cast, cataloged, centralized, challenged, chaired, changed, channeled, charted, checked, chose, circulated, clarified, classified, cleared, closed, co-authored, cold, called, collaborated, collected, combined, commissioned, committed, communicated, compared, compiled, complied, completed, composed, computed, conceived, conceptualized, concluded, condensed, conducted, conferred, consolidated, constructed, consulted, contracted, contrasted, contributed, contrived, controlled, converted, convinced, coordinated, corrected, corresponded, counseled, counted, created, critiqued, cultivated

D
debugged, decided, decentralized, decreased, deferred, defined, delegated, delivered, demonstrated, depreciated, described, designated, designed, determined, developed, devised, devoted, diagrammed, directed, disclosed, discounted, discovered, dispatched, displayed, dissembled, distinguished, distributed, diversified, divested, documented, doubled, drafted

E
earned, eased, edited, effected, elected, eliminated, employed, enabled, encouraged, endorsed, enforced, engaged, engineered, enhanced, enlarged, enriched, entered, entertained, established, estimated, evaluated, examined, exceeded, exchanged, executed, exempted, exercised, expanded, expedited, explained, exposed, extended, extracted, extrapolated

F
facilitated, familiarized, fashioned, fielded, figured, financed, fit, focused, forecasted, formalized, formed, formulated, fortified, found, founded, framed, fulfilled, functioned, furnished,

G
gained, gathered, gauged, gave, generated, governed, graded, granted, greeted, grouped, guided 

H
handled, headed, hired, hosted

I
identified, illustrated, illuminated, implemented, improved, improvised, inaugurated, indoctrinated, increased, incurred, induced, influenced, informed, initiated, innovated, inquired, inspected, inspired, installed, instigated, instilled, instituted, instructed, insured, interfaced, interpreted, interviewed, introduced, invented, inventoried, invested, investigated, invited, involved, isolated, issued

J
joined, judged

L
launched, lectured, led, lightened, liquidated, litigated, lobbied, localized, located

M
maintained, managed, mapped, marketed, maximized, measured, mediated, merchandised, merged, met, minimized, modeled, moderated, modernized, modified, monitored, motivated, moved, multiplied

N
named, narrated, negotiated, noticed, nurtured

O
observed, obtained, offered, offset, opened, operated, orchestrated, ordered, organized, oriented, originated, overhauled, oversaw

P
paid, participated, passed, patterned, penalized, perceived, performed, permitted, persuaded, phased, out, pinpointed, pioneered, placed, planned, polled, prepared, presented, preserved, presided, prevented, priced, printed, prioritized, probed, processed, procured, produced, profiled, programmed, projected, promoted, prompted, proposed, proved, provided, publicized, published, purchased, pursued

Q
quantified, quoted

R
raised, ranked, rated, reacted, read, received, recommended, reconciled, recorded, recovered, recruited, rectified, redesigned, reduced, referred, refined, regained, regulated, rehabilitated, reinforced, reinstated, rejected, related, remedied, remodeled, renegotiated, reorganized, replaced, repaired, reported, represented, requested, researched, resolved, responded, restored, restructured, resulted, retained, retrieved, revamped, revealed, reversed, reviewed, revised, revitalized, rewarded, routed

S
safeguarded, salvaged, saved, scheduled, screened, secured, segmented, selected, sent, separated, served, serviced, settled, shaped, shortened, showed, shrank, signed, simplified, sold, solved, spearheaded, specified, speculated, spoke, spread, stabilized, staffed, staged, standardized, steered, stimulated, strategized, streamlined, strengthened, stressed, structured, studied, submitted, substantiated, substituted, suggested, summarized, superseded, supervised, supplied, supported, surpassed, surveyed, synchronized, synthesized, systematized

T
tabulated, tailored, targeted, taught, terminated, tested, testified, tightened, took, traced, traded, trained, transacted, transferred, transformed, translated, transported, traveled, treated, tripled

U
uncovered, undertook, unified, united, updated, upgraded, used, utilized

V
validated, valued, verified, viewed, visited

W
weighed, welcomed, widened, witnessed, won, worked, wrote