Whether you’re a web developer, help desk manager or other technology pro, using the right keywords in your IT resume helps ensure it gets past automated gatekeepers and into a hiring manager’s hands.
A good friend of mine once asked me to take a look at her resume. She was ready to embark on a new job search and looking for some objective input from someone in the IT staffing industry. I was glad she did – with a strong technology background spanning several years.
I expected an IT resume peppered with strategic technology keywords that I knew hiring managers would be searching for. Instead, the document was somewhat vague – well written without question – but not as targeted as it needed to be. Fortunately, my friend was open to some constructive feedback and took my advice on resume keywords.
The importance of IT resume keywords
How essential are keywords in an IT resume? The short answer is very important. Quite simply, using the correct keywords helps the right hiring managers find your resume, so it’s critical for technology job seekers to include them. With so many companies using applicant tracking software to scan resumes, these IT resume keywords will help you clear the first hurdle and get past the automated gatekeeper.
Check out these four software engineer resume mistakes to avoid.
Focus on key competencies in your IT resume
The first step is to think about the kind of job you are targeting. If you have an actual job description for a specific opportunity – web developer, for example – read it carefully and highlight the words that you see in the job description. If you don’t have a job description, try pulling up some current IT job postings with similar job titles online and see what words are being used in those IT job descriptions.
Using web developer as an example, you will likely find terms such as mobile applications, user interface, .NET and HTML come up multiple times. These are the words you should include in your resume, assuming you have that experience. Software and technology competencies are particularly important and worth repeating in different sections of your IT resume.
Get specific IT job descriptions by downloading the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide.
Think like an IT hiring manager
Also keep in mind that hiring managers typically use nouns when running searches. For example, they might use “management experience” rather than “experience managing.”
Of course, when it comes to IT resume keywords, it’s everything in moderation. You don’t want to get carried away by over-using them – especially if the keywords you're including are misleading or are unrepresentative of your experience and qualifications. While using the right keywords might get you past the tracking software, a hiring manager will not be impressed by an IT resume that’s been overstuffed to the point that it no longer reads clearly, logically or honestly.
Keep your IT resume focused on your qualifications, specialized skills and accomplishments, using keywords strategically throughout the document. These easy guidelines will help land your resume at the top of the pile and get your foot in the door for the all-important interview.
Use our calculator to look up salary ranges for technology and IT jobs in your area:
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Note: This post has been updated. It originally appeared on 10/25/13.