How to Write a Keyword-Rich Resume When Job Details are Sparse

Resume and Cover Letter Keywords

There are few things more frustrating in your job search than sitting down to customize your resume and cover letter to a job posting, only to realize the job posting is telling you next to nothing about the role.

Customizing your resume and cover letter is redundant enough as it is, not to mention time consuming, but it must be done (if you want the job, that is). So even though the employer has made this process more difficult for you, you still need to step up to the plate and take some initiative.

So, next steps – you’ve given yourself a pep talk and mustered up the energy to find the information you need, but where do you start?

Find Similar Postings

In the millions of job postings available online, I can guarantee you that you will find additional postings for the same type of role. You can use the information on these postings to gain a better understanding of the role’s requirements, and also to identify the industry keywords.

How will I know what the keywords are?

Look for terms that are reappearing in the job postings. The more often the keyword is used, the more likely it is, that the hiring manager will expect to see it in your resume.

Find Other Job Postings from the Company

You can search major job search websites for the company name to find additional postings from the company you are hoping to apply for. Another option is to check if the job postings are also listed on the company’s website. Last but definitely not least, check out the company’s profile page on LinkedIn.

All of the above options will expose you to documents prepared by the company, and therefore will show you the type of wording that is commonly used within the company. This is a great way to double check that you are using keywords that the company is familiar with.

It can come down to the most minor of details such as “Relationship-building” versus “Building Relationships”. Making sure that your keywords match up with the company’s keywords will ensure that you pass through keyword scanning systems with flying colors.

Find People in Similar Roles on LinkedIn

LinkedIn will most likely be your most valuable resource in this process. You can conduct a search on LinkedIn to find professionals across the world fulfilling the role that you will be applying for. You will also have access to many of their profiles, including their job descriptions and keyword usage.

Focus on individuals whose roles align closely with the role you are targeting – same geographic location and industry, if possible. Aside from reviewing their professional experience to identify recurring keywords, you should also take a look at the Skills & Expertise section of their profile. This is where an individual can list the keywords that are relevant to their skillset, and connections can also endorse their expertise in various skills.

Find People Within the Company on LinkedIn

While you’re browsing through LinkedIn, you should also conduct a search for the company that you will be applying to. The company profile page will provide you with a company synopsis, an outline of their product offerings, and also a list of their current and former employees on LinkedIn.

Take some time to review the profile page of the company as well as the employees, and you may even be lucky enough to find someone who fulfills a similar role to the one that you’ll be applying for. Once again, review the information to identify the common keywords to ensure that you are customizing your resume with the right information.

Helpful Tip:

When reviewing LinkedIn profiles of employees within the company who fulfill similar positions, review their earlier work experience and academic qualifications. This will give you a thorough understanding of what the company is looking for in terms of qualifications and skills. You can also check to see if you are connected with anyone who currently works at the company in order to receive an internal recommendation for your application.

Research the Company

You’re almost finished! There is one last step to make sure that you’ve really nailed it. This last step is to make sure that you are not only a great fit for the role, but also a great fit for the company. Review the company’s website and conduct some online research to uncover any media coverage it may have been featured in.

You want to look for updates on what the company is currently working on, challenges it may have encountered in the past, and its overall mission statement and values. These are additional keywords and topics to infuse into your cover letter to show that you will be a perfect fit into the corporate culture.

(Related: The 7 Worst Job Application Mistakes »)

Although keyword research can be exhausting, it definitely pays off. By utilizing the correct keywords in your resume and cover letter you will catch the hiring manager’s attention, show that you’ve customized your documents for this role particularly, and prove that you’re the type of employee who takes initiative and goes the extra mile.


About the Author

ResumeTarget.com provides professional resume writing services for clients of all career levels across North America. We are the only resume writing company that offers a professionally written resume coupled with the guidance of recruiters, to guarantee that your resume will get results. Join our LinkedIn group to learn more!


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