Recruiters and hiring managers often use keywords in resumes to evaluate whether applicants meet the job’s requirements. You might wonder what keywords hiring managers are looking for when you’re searching for jobs. You can usually find this information in the job descriptions they post, and you can use these keywords to your benefit.
Keywords can assist you in making your job search process easier and more productive.
Keywords play a pivotal role in job searches for two reasons.
- To shortlist resumes before they reach a human, most companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
- Using keywords in your profile can help recruiters find you on job search platforms or professional networks like LinkedIn.
Therefore, I think it behooves us to take a closer look into the world of keywords by examining the following:
- Understanding their different types
- How to best use them in your job search
- Useful tips for maximizing their impact
- Potential pitfalls to avoid
Types of Keywords To Use During Job Search
Certain methodologies, techniques, or key phrases are unique to each field.
- Example: Digital Marketing – Keywords = ‘SEO,’ ‘Content Marketing,’ and ‘Google Analytics’
In the job description, watch out for words describing responsibilities or qualifications related to the role you’re applying for.
- Example: Project Management – Include these words in your resume
Soft and Hard Skill Keywords
Both hard and soft skills are vital in most positions.
- Example: Hard Skills – Technical abilities – Keywords = Specific software
Soft Skills – Your work style – Keywords = Teamwork, Communication
Using action verbs demonstrates concretely to the employer what you achieved.
- Example: Keywords – Led, Managed, Developed, Initiated
Know the company lingo!
- Example: Key Word – Sustainability – Environmental
To succeed in your job search, align your resume and cover letter language with the job description for a better chance of landing an interview.
Personal Keywords for Job Search
A person’s personal keywords refer to terms that express the unique experiences, interests, skills, and abilities that make them an ideal candidate. They go beyond job titles and degrees.
For instance, when transitioning from a journalism career to public relations, emphasize transferable skills such as “storytelling,” “communication,” and “content creation.” Utilizing these terms can assist prospective employers in recognizing your versatility and adaptability.
You can use your personal keywords along with industry keywords to enhance your job search and catch the attention of hiring managers who value these qualities.
Keywords for Professional Goals for Job Search
Professional goal keywords refer to those terms or phrases that encapsulate our career aspirations. They are the manifestation of where we see ourselves in the future, what roles we aim to fill, and how we plan to grow as professionals.
Leadership Role Keywords
If you excel in leadership, then, by all means, incorporate some strong leadership keywords into your search and resume. For example, “team leader,” “manager,” “director,” or “head of.” Now, these are universal terms, so adjusting the words to the language of your preferred industry is key.
If you want to work in a specific and specialized field, use specific words related to that area when looking for a job. For example, if you’re interested in project management, mention terms like “Agile project management.” If you’re into programming, include words like “Python programming.” If you’re focused on data science, make sure to use the term “Data Science” in your job search.
International/ Multicultural Keywords
You might use phrases like “international relations,” “bilingual customer service,” or “global project management” as keywords in your job search if your career goals have an international or multicultural component.
Align your professional goal keywords with both your future ambitions and current qualifications to convey your desired career trajectory and assure potential employers of your capability for desired roles.
Work History Keywords for Job Search
Your work history keywords should be related to the job description’s specific skills or experiences. Besides helping your application pass any Applicant Tracking Systems, it will demonstrate to the employer that your experience directly aligns with the requirements of the employer.
Professional Work Qualifications for Job Searching
The keywords for professional work qualifications refer to terms and phrases that emphasize the skills and experiences you have acquired throughout your professional life. Certifications, training programs, and other notable accomplishments may be included in this category.
Below are some illustrations:
- Engineering Keywords – ‘Six Sigma Green Belt Certified’ or ‘Advanced Quality Function Deployment Training.’
- IT Keywords – Certified Information Systems Security Professional’ or ‘Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals’
- Educational Field Keywords – Certificate in School Leadership,’ ‘State Teaching License’ or ‘TESOL Certified’
Ensure your top qualifications stand out in your profiles or resumes by including keywords, emphasizing both skills and dedication to improvement.
Job Search Keyword Tips
Understand the Job Description
Your resume and job search are both better served if you find relevant keywords in the job description. Inspect the job specification, qualifications, and the roles and responsibilities mentioned, and use these terms accordingly.
Use Relevant Keywords
When there are so many keywords available, it is tempting just to throw them all out and see what sticks. My advice is don’t! Only use the relevant terms for the position you are applying for.
Infuse Keywords Naturally
Ensure the keywords chosen flow seamlessly into the verbiage.
Leverage Different Types of Keywords
If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, use industry-specific keywords along with buzzwords, technical terms, and jargon.
Use Both Acronyms and Full Terms
A good practice when preparing a resume is to spell out acronyms along with using them. If you’re a Certified Public Accountant, for example, use both “CPA” and “Certified Public Accountant”.
Ensure that the keywords in your resume and cover letter are not only confined to those documents; incorporate them into your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or any other platform where you present your professional identity. This practice enables prospective employers to recognize the consistency of your qualifications across various channels.
The industry changes constantly, and so do the keywords associated with it. Stay current on market trends, and update your keywords accordingly.
Avoid These Mistakes When Using Keywords
Never overrate your skill set in any area. If you do, you will be expected to deliver at that level, which will create problems for you down the road.
Over-stuffing Your Resume with Keywords
Don’t include keywords that aren’t directly related to your skills, qualifications, and experiences. It’s more than just apparent; it’s ineffective. Recruiters are trained to spot those who try to trick the system by over-stuffing keywords.
Using Irrelevant Keywords
If you’re applying for a specific position, your keywords should be tailored to it. Avoid using generalized or off-the-mark terms in your resume and cover letter.
Ignoring the Job Description
The initial indicator of what the employer seeks in the ideal candidate lies within the job description. Failing to incorporate relevant keywords from it may result in your application being promptly disregarded.
Using Complex Industry Jargon
If you use overly technical or complex jargon in your resume, hiring managers who might not be experts on every aspect of the industry might become confused or hesitant to hire you.
Be honest, be selective, and most importantly, be you. The right job and employer will value the genuine talents and experiences you bring to the table.
Definition of Keywords in Job Applications
Job application keywords are specific words or phrases employers seek in resumes and cover letters to assess a candidate’s suitability. These highlight skills and qualifications aligned with the job description, signaling to hiring managers or tracking systems that you are the right fit. Articulating your abilities with these keywords speaks the employer’s language, making a compelling case for consideration.
Using the right keywords for your job search can make all the difference in the world. Besides aligning your skills with what employers are looking for, they can also help you discover new opportunities. You have unique skills and experiences that are valuable, so embrace marketing yourself and be confident – you may just be one keyword from your dream job!