Blog > Career Talk

The keywords advantage

The keywords advantage

With the current trends of online job search, having the right keywords in your CV/Resumes, social profiles,  is critical to making yourself visible to recruiters and hiring managers who are often searching online for qualified job candidates. With the right keywords in your CV/Resumes, social profile, your profile will appear in search results, and appearing in search results is the way you are found by employers and recruiters.

Without the right keywords, your profiles (and you) are invisible regardless of how well-qualified you might be for the job you want, because your resume may never be seen by a recruiter.

So, What Are Key Words?            

The words we type into the search box on a search engine are “keywords.” While looking for candidates, recruiters and employers use keywords when searching through search engines and social networks, as well as employer applicant tracking systems (“ATS”) and resume databases.

What Are Keywords for Job Search?

Think of keywords as the terminologies or “catchwords” used by insiders in a profession or industry. It’s how insiders in that profession describe themselves and others in their profession. These are the words indicated in job descriptions and job requirements. The keywords most relevant to your job search are the words and phrases a recruiter would use to describe your next job (and, sometimes, your current and past jobs, too).

Developing Your Keywords

Search for the job you want next at and note what unique, job-specific words are used in those job descriptions. Check the job requirements too to be sure that you have chosen the job that is right for you.

For example, assume that you hold the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. You can present your certification in several different ways: PMP, PMP certified, certified PMP, certified Project Management Professional, etc. To determine which is used most often by employers in their job descriptions, simply type the terms, separated with commas, into the google search box adding trending keywords. Then, google will analyze millions of job descriptions to show you what the relative and absolute trends are for those terms so you can choose the best version to use in your CV/Resume or social profiles.

If possible, find a way to add the top two versions of the term, so you are found when either of those two terms is used. Top 20 Categories of Keywords:

  1. Your professional name

This is a relatively unique version of your name that you use consistently in your professional communications, CV/Resumes, social profiles, publications, blogs, resumes, networking cards, etc. Consistently using a professional name is particularly important when a recruiter or employer is verifying the “facts” on your resume by comparing it with your LinkedIn Profile. You should avoid the “mistaken identity” thing.

  1. Your target job title

The title of the job that you want next, preferably the version(s) used by your target employers is a very important set of keywords. When in doubt about exactly which job title to use, become a slash person - “Project Manager/Senior Project Lead” or “Senior Administrative Assistant/ Executive Assistant”.

  1. Current and previous job titles

Your current and former job titles are also important keywords. Again, focus on the standard job titles that are used now by your target employers, particularly if current (or former) employer(s) used non-standard titles like “sales star” for a sales rep position, substitute it with “sales rep/sales representative” to swap the non-standard term. Again, become a slash person when necessary.

  1. Location, your current or your target city,

Use city, in your profiles so your profile is in the search results for any of those terms. This enables you to be found in very specific searches as well as “radius” searches around a city.You can also add the actual locality such as Ntinda or Bukoto, Makindye east.

  1. Your skills

Preferably the skills most in demand for the job you want next (e.g., using Microsoft Word and Excel, driving, leading a project team, etc.) need to be included — even if they are not the skills you used primarily for your most current job or you don’t have them, you should make effort to acquire them and highlight them.

  1. Job-specific, profession-specific, and industry-specific tools and techniques

Add the relevant tools and techniques that you use or are qualified to use because of training, education, and/or experience (e.g. MRI, Mastercam, Six Sigma, LEED, etc.).

  1. Software relevant to your job or profession

Include the software required for your target job that you use or have been trained to use, particularly if it’s unique to your job, industry, or profession (e.g. Tally, QuickBooks, CAD, SAP, WP, etc.). If widely-used software like the Microsoft Office set of products are sometimes mentioned in job descriptions for the job you want, be sure to include those keywords, too. Don’t assume that they are so widely used that they don’t need to be mentioned.

  1. Hardware relevant to your job or profession

Add any specific hardware that may be required for your target job if you have experience using it or have been trained to use it, particularly if it is unique to your job, industry, or profession (e.g. heart monitors, scanners, even different versions of smart phones if they are relevant to the job).

  1. Internet tools and apps relevant to your job or profession

If necessary, Include Internet tools and apps that you use or are qualified to use because of training, education, and/or experience (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Analytics, etc.).

  1. Awards and recognition

If you’ve been employee of the month, salesperson of the year, or received other recognition from your employer, a customer or client, or your profession or industry, be sure to include it (or the most current or relevant recognition) in your social profiles.

  1. Relevant industry and professional organizations

Include the industry and professional organizations or societies that you have joined (plus committee membership and current or former officer titles) particularly when you find the organization named in job descriptions.

  1. Professional and/or technical acronyms

Usually, the more acronyms; the better, as long as they are appropriate to your experience and education. Be sure to include what the acronyms represent too, just in case someone searches on the complete term rather than only the acronym. This does not include texting shortcuts like LOL!

  1. Certifications, licenses, or other proof of professional or industry knowledge

Include all proof of professional knowledge or achievement, particularly focusing on those that are current (not expired or out-of-date).

  1. Categories of employers

Mention those groups of employers which are your target employers or most often need your services, like “national specialty retailers” or “general medical” for example.

  1. Applicable education

Include job-specific education you have (degrees, majors, applicable course work, post-graduate courses, professional training, on-the-job-training, and certifications, etc.).

  1. Your publications

If you have written any books, white papers, or articles, particularly relevant to the job, industry, or profession you are targeting, be sure to include them.

  1. Websites and media

If you write - or have written articles - published on any well-regarded websites, publish your own blog, or have been widely quoted in various media, include the names of those websites and media.

  1. Trade shows and conferences

If you have attended relevant trade shows or conference, particularly if you have been a speaker or presented papers, add those names to your profiles.

  1. Other jargon

Include any other common “insider” words, terms, and acronyms specific to the profession and/or industry that describe your work, typical products and/or services involved, and the people who do your job.

  1. Social profile links.

Regardless of which social profile you are using, to be effective for your job search, all of the profiles that support your job search need to be “reachable” when an employer or recruiter types their search terms into a search engine or social network search box. So include these better if you can include direct links.

Note: Include the words that are appropriate for you and your target job, but don’t be inaccurate or deceptive. “Marketing mode” is fine. Scam/exaggeration mode is a very poor strategy. Friends and colleagues will spot the exaggerations on your social profiles, and lose confidence in you.

Contributed by: Henry Mubiru Kweba. 

Views expressed by contributors are their own.