Finding keywords: an easy trick

One of the best ways to get noticed by a hiring official is to tailor your application with keywords from the job announcement you’re applying to. Using these terms in your resume and cover letter can show that you’ve closely read the announcement and have the necessary experience and skills to do the job well.

Using keywords in a resume is a particularly smart approach when you’re applying to government positions. When faced with (sometimes) hundreds of applications, hiring officials will gravitate toward applicants who clearly possess the skills needed to succeed.

Of course, the challenge is to figure out where to find these keywords and then decide which ones include.

One trick I recently came up with is to use tag clouds to find the words that most frequently appear in the Duties and Qualifications section on federal job announcements. To do this, copy and paste the text from these sections into any tag cloud generator and then see which words come up. From there, use these keywords to highlight the relevant experience and skills you have in your resume.

A couple of examples might be instructive. First, here are the keywords from a recent posting for an entry-level Program Analyst at the Department of Homeland Security:

And here is a tag cloud describing the desired skills and experience of Wildlife Biologist at the Department of Interior:

As you can see, the keywords that appear in each posting are very different. Words like analysis, data, information and research appear frequently in the Homeland Security job, while biological, wildlife and conservation are seen in the Interior position.

If you were applying to either of these positions, how would you use these keywords to highlight your skills and experience? What are some other methods you use to search for keywords in a job announcement?

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