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What keywords hiring managers should look for in a resume

Locating the best employees for staffing any office requires a lot of experience, intuition and “reading between the lines.” In other words, what a person writes does not always accurately describe an applicant’s skill set or professional abilities. If a typical recruiter spends under two minutes looking at any given resume, that gives them time to do a quick scan of information and key words they are looking for before putting it down and going on to the next one. Staffing professionals are not easily impressed by general resumes without specifics to the position being applied for.

Paying Attention to Descriptions

According to a recent Harris poll, the types of wording a potential candidate uses on a resume can be extremely revealing as to the person’s experience and appropriateness for a certain position. For instance, a number of descriptive phrases job applicants use are immediate turnoffs to staffing professionals. The survey involved more than 2,200 human resource professionals and hiring managers who were all involved in a wide range of industries.

Just Say No

A high percentage of hiring managers agreed that many of the most commonly used terms on a resume jump out at them as a big bold NO. Those are words like:


  • Best of breed
  • Go-getter
  • Thought leadership
  • Think outside of the box
  • Synergy
  • Go-to person


Words that Win

Employers taking part in the survey gave some tips as to the types of words that they see as positive. Those are the types of words or terms that prove action on the part of the candidate. At the top of that list is “achieved,” which cuts through the fluff and means the applicant actually did something positive in the position. Rather than being subjective, these words convey real information. Other words that hint at positive work skills are:


  • Improved
  • Trained
  • Mentored
  • Managed or Created
  • Resolved


Verifying Experience and Balancing Credentials

One type of verification lies in the amount of time the applicant spent at any given job, and the reason for leaving. While quick turn-around in a position is not usually an asset you’re looking for, there may have been extenuating circumstances that explain the situation. References can also be beneficial, but only to a certain extent. It can be hard to judge credibility and partiality when speaking with references stated on a resume.

With so many points to balance and verify, the best way for recruiters and companies to fill positions is by using the latest technological platforms, such as the Applicant Tracking System. This is an integral system that can locate available talent with the needed qualities for any position.

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