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On this page: Understanding keywords is key to being found for the right jobs.

Keywords for Your Job Search

Most resumes end up in a database of some sort: in the resume database of a job board, in an employer's applicant tracking system, in social networks like LinkedIn and Google Plus, or in a recruiter's email inbox.

Find a Job Here
what
job title, keywords
where
city, state, zip
jobs by job search

Regardless of where they are stored, those resumes need to be "find-able" when someone types in their search terms.

Those search terms are commonly called "keywords."

Having your resume appear in the search results when the right words for you are used for a search is called "search engine optimization" (or "SEO").

Keywords for Job Search

The keywords most relevant to your job search are the words and phrases someone would use to describe your next job (as well as your current job).  You must be sure to include those words and phrases, where appropriate, in your resume so your resume will appear near the top in resume database search results. For an example see our sample ASCII text resume

Think of keywords as the jargon or "buzzwords" used by insiders in a profession or industry. It's how insiders describe themselves and others in their profession. These are the terms they give to the people writing job descriptions as the job requirements.

In the past, we focused on "action verbs" in our resumes -- for example: "Managed a P&L..." or "Created and implemented a marketing campaign..." And, action verbs are still very important because they describe your job and may be used in a search.

However, you need more than action verbs in cyberspace. You need the key words - the right words used by someone searching a resume database, applicant tracking system ("ATS"), or social media for qualified applicants - to appear in your resume, so that your resume will appear in the results of a search.

Think of the education and experience you have had and the job you want, your accomplishments and awards, and brainstorm the nouns, noun phrases, and verbs that would be used in the description of the requirements of that job, using the suggestions in the section below.

Now that you understand more about keywords for your resume (or for this version of your resume), put them to use. Read How to Optimize the Right Keywords for Your Resumes for methods of researching and using the best keywords. Optimizing your resume for an employer's or recruiter's search should increase the effectiveness of your resume.

Where and When Keywords Are Important Now

We need the right keywords in both our resumes and also in our social media profiles. And, they are not exactly the same keywords, unfortunately. Today, for a successful job search and a successful career, we need two sets of keywords.

1. Keywords in Resumes

The keywords you include in your resume will usually be customized to the job you are applying for because that is when we use resumes most often now. We've left behind the days of a one-size-fits-all-opportunities resume.

Now, resume customization is a necessity. We must be sure to include exactly the right words in our resume (the right keywords), or the resume will not be found in the search results because it won't contain the right keywords for the opportunity.

Read Resume Keyword Success Secrets for more information on how to customize your resume with the right keywords..

2. Keywords in Social Media

On the other hand, we need less opportunity-specific keywords in our social media profiles, like our LinkedIn Profiles, because the people searching will be using a variety of different terms.

So, we need to use a different set of keywords in our social profiles -- more general, focused on industries and professions and groups of employers rather than one specific employer and opportunity.

Read Social Profile Keyword Success Secrets for more information on finding and using the best keywords for your social profiles.

More about Keywords:

More about Social Media:

More about Resumes:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.