Executive Gateway to $100,000 to $1 Million+ Careers
Articles by Wendy Enelow

Key Words That Work

By Wendy Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW


“My expertise is in process mapping, SAP technology, productivity improvement, operations redesign, team leadership, and supply chain management. Who am I?” If you guessed that I’m the Vice President of Operations (or something similar), you’re right! Those few words above communicated a very specific message about “who am I.” That is precisely what key words are all about. Ten years ago, no one had even heard of key words, yet they’re nothing new. Previously known as buzz words, key words are words that are specific to a particular industry or profession and have two vital purposes in your job search:

  • A single key word communicates multiple skills and qualifications. When prospective employer read the key word “sales,” they will assume you have experience in new business development, product/service presentation, negotiations, sales closings, customer relationship management, new product introduction, and more. Just one key word can have tremendous power and deliver a huge message.
  • Key words are the backbone for resume scanning technology. If a company is seeking a Chief Financial Officer, they may do a key word search through hundreds of resumes to find candidates with experience in tax, treasury, cash management, currency hedging, and foreign exchange. If you don’t have those words in your resume, you will be passed over.

Typical key words for the $100,000+ executive include:

* Strategic Planning * Organizational Leadership
* Profitability Improvement * Performance Optimization
* New Business Development * Joint Ventures & Alliances
* Consensus Building & Teaming * Corporate Administration
* World Class Organization * Best Practices & Benchmarking
* P&L Responsibility * Multi-Site Operations
* Budgeting & Finance * Decision-Making

NOTE: Although one might assume that key words are individual words, key words can be multiple words as demonstrated above. HOW & WHERE DO YOU USE KEY WORDS? As a $100,000+ executive job search candidate, you must use your key words in all of your job search marketing communications – resumes, cover letters, interview follow-up letters, executive profiles, and more. Carefully integrate them into the text, when and where appropriate, to be sure you are communicating a complete message of “who you are” and what value/knowledge you bring to the organization.

NOTE: Resume scanning technology can find these words anywhere in your resume or letter! They do not need to be in a separate section.

Here are a few ideas of how and where to incorporate key words into your resume:

  • In the Career Summary at the beginning of your resume. Summaries are the ideal section in which to highlight your most notable key words, and you can do this either in a paragraph format or a listing of bulleted items. By doing so, you’re quickly communicating your core qualifications for immediate impact.
  • In your job descriptions. Use key words to write powerful action statements, project highlights, achievements, and more.
  • In a separate section. Although optional, as noted above, you may choose to summarize your key words in a separate section titled Professional Qualifications or Executive Qualifications.

MOVING FORWARD Get a copy of your resume and review it carefully. Have you incorporated all of the key words that are most relevant to your profession and your industry (if your search is industry-specific)? If not, go back through and integrate the appropriate key words so that your resume clearly communicates “This is who I am.” And, remember, these same key words will be the foundation for your interviews. Not only do you need to be able to write about your key words, you must be able to verbally communicate about them in strong and powerful statements that highlight your successes, contributions, and achievements. Be an educated and well-prepared $100,000+ executive search candidate and the victory will be yours!

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