Top 5 Words Recruiters Look for in Resumes

As job seekers work to perfect their resume, it’s important for them to know what recruiters are looking for. According to CareerBuilder, there are five keywords most HR managers look for on resumes. If job seekers are able to match their experience with these types of skills and experience, recruiters will be more likely to spend time reading their resumes.

Let’s dive deeper into what these keywords mean and how they will set a job seeker’s resume apart from the rest.

1. Problem solving. Job seekers need to display this strength in their resume because it illustrates their ability to approach challenges and solve them. Whether the job seeker is applying for an entry-level position or the C-suite, problem solving is a skill used by every employee. In order to meet goals and fix problems in the workplace, employees need the ability to solve problems effectively.

2. Leadership. HR managers look for leadership experience on resumes because they want employees who possess skills associated with good leaders. Employees need to be able to demonstrate confidence in decision making, good listening skills, and the ability to be a team leader. Employers expect their employees to take initiative and communicate new ideas to management.

3. Written communication. While this skill is underestimated by many job seekers, this is one of the strongest skills HR managers look for. If an employee can demonstrate strong writing abilities, this will give them a better chance of finding a job. The majority of communication between the employees and management is through writing; therefore, employees must show in their resume they are prepared to communicate with top management.

4. Team building. Team building is what helps a company achieve their goals. When a job seeker displays the ability to work in a team, HR managers will see they are able to collaborate with their co-workers to meet company objectives.

5. Performance and productivity improvement. Job seekers should be able to illustrate throughout their resume how they have contributed to the success of their previous companies. Employers want to know how you can improve upon the success of their company and your ability to increase a company’s performance.

If job seekers can demonstrate these keywords and provide concrete examples with experience, their resumes will stand out among other candidates. Recruiters expect to see these types of skills on resumes, so job seekers must be prepared to share their experiences.

Have you used any of these keywords to describe your skills and experience on your resume?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.


  1. Harrison says

    This piece is misnamed and the author uses the term “keywords” erroneously. This is a description of key skills to be referenced, not words. Keywords are picked up by résumé scanning software and during the quick read.

    What are the keywords associated with each of the five key skills? How do you catch the eye of the HR manage who is only giving you 15 to 30 seconds?

  2. Francis Foo says

    I appreciate you sharing this article but in a competitive marketplace like now, recruiters no longer rely on those five keywords to decide who to call in for an interview! Instead of writing those five qualities down on your resume, I’d suggest that candidates customize their resume to highlight those unique qualities that differentiate them from other candidates. It’d be even better if candidates could speak to how their skill sets and experience build off those five qualities highlighted in your article – most recruiters would expect all job applicants to have those five qualities and even if candidates don’t have, they are still going to say it anyway. Hence, to game the system, job applicants definitely have to think out of the box and assess how they can best position themselves in the most favorable way possible.

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