Beware of Resume Keyword Stuffing

keywords for resume scanners

After listening to “I am not throwing away my shot” from Hamilton on Disney +, you’re finally inspired to give resume writing a real shot on your own. But between translating your military experience, using the proper formatting, and making sure you include applicable skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, there’s one thing you don’t want to sneak its way into your resume — keyword stuffing.

What is Resume Keyword Stuffing?

Resume keyword stuffing is simply the act of unnaturally filling up a resume with many words in an effort to rank in or beat the applicant tracking system.

Resume keyword stuffing, much like it’s brother, keyword stuffing, on the search engine optimization (SEO) side, is usually done to speak to the computer, with no regard for the human brain or eye.

Believe it or not, a hiring manager as well as the employer’s tracking software of choice can easily tell when a resume is the victim of keyword stuffing.

As mentioned in an article in the Empire Resume military to civilian blog, keyword stuffing is an obsolescent resume writing strategy. The attempt to manipulate the system is highly frowned upon by hiring managers today.

Additionally, doing so does not offer a recruiter or even a headhunter any real insight as to the value a potential employment candidate brings to the table.

Example of Resume Keyword Stuffing

keywords for resume scanners

Content that flows naturally through your military to civilian resume with a human factor is the key to avoiding resume keyword stuffing. Below you’ll find prime examples of resume keyword stuffing:

  • Keyword overload. This means using the same words and phrases an excessive amount of times over and over and over. Let’s say you were in the human resources industry and you’re actually applying for a human resources position. The details of your resume should not look like this:

I’m a 10-year human resources manager who coordinated all human resources paperwork, managed 5 people on the human resources team, and implemented a human resources program for the department.

 Unfortunately, many of our fellow veterans’ resumes are rejected by the applicant tracking system because of this tactic. Some just simply exaggerate the process of optimizing the resume for the applicant tracking system.

When writing your resume, be sure to use keywords and phrases in context and incorporate them into descriptive achievement-oriented bullet points. Do not just include them as a list of skills or competencies.

  • Entering a broad list of skills. Many people make the mistake of entering every technological tool they’ve used, instead of listing only the ones they are proficient in.

Some applicants list a large amount of text containing all of the software and technology they’ve laid eyes on, in the hopes that a recruiter will notice the resume or the applicant tracking system will identify with the resume.

Unfortunately, the person is usually not an expert in the technology they’ve included.

  • Using keywords incorrectly. When the employer is seeking someone with marketing skills, make sure your resume includes your marketing experience, not customer service or sales. Be specific in your resume and ensure your talents are in alignment with the job description.
  • Including KSA’s verbatim from the job description. Having the knowledge, skills and abilities is very important for the particular role; however, just copy and pasting them in your resume in the hopes to pull up on employer’s applicant tracking systems does nothing to show your practical experience.

Empire Resume’s Stand on Keyword Stuffing

keywords for resume scanners

At Empire Resume, we’re constantly asked about keyword stuffing by nearly all of our clients, specifically our beloved active-duty military, veterans, and their spouses.

This practice of “keyword stuffing” is where military applicants will include every keyword and knowledge, skills, and abilities, (KSAs) in their resume in the belief that their resume will move to the top of the pile.

Employers today have much more sophisticated applicant tracking system (ATS) so there’s no guarantee this works. Also, if the resume does pull up first from this keyword stuffing and is just a list of keywords and job descriptions, the employer will simply move onto the next resume.

Bottom line is that employers heavily frown on keyword stuffing, unless the applicant can show they have real experience with the listed job requirements and keywords from the description.

Always remember that your resume is a marketing document designed to get you an interview, period! It must clearly and concisely showcase the skills, qualifications, and value you bring to employers in the 6-seconds they’ll spend reviewing it.

Make Sure Your Resume Gets Seen with Empire Resume

keywords for resume scanners

With all of the keyword don’ts about resumes, someone may ask, “How do I ensure my resume gets seen?”

Here is what I tell all clients, both military and civilian, about how they can guarantee their resume will be seen:

  • Remember, connecting with the right people who can offer you a job is the only way to get hired!
  • Submit your resume through the required means such as a company website, job board, or LinkedIn and always follow-up with a hard copy of your resume and targeted cover letter via regular mail that concisely showcases why you are the best candidate.
  • Also, make sure you follow up with every decision maker you’ve sent a resume to. Send a follow-up email to the person each week to ensure they received your resume and cover letter and they have reviewed your credentials.

Three follow-up emails should be enough to get their attention and not go overboard. After the three emails have been sent, you can be confident you’ve exhausted your efforts and move on.

Contact Empire Resume

If you need assistance with writing a military or professional resume in order to avoid keyword stuffing, give the certified resume writing professionals at Empire Resume a call @ 801-690-4085.

With our resume writing services, we can help you translate your military experience into civilian language, write a winning resume, create a compelling LinkedIn profile, and make a cover letter that will put you ahead of the competition and get your name in front of the hiring manager.

Call 801-690-4085 or send us an email at

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance

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