Why Keywords Are Important to Your Job Search

searchingWhat do your job search and search engine optimization have in common? One word; keywords. As the world gets more and more automated, the less effective a “one size fits all” approach to anything will be. You don’t want merely to adapt to this automation. You want to learn how to take advantage of it.

There are two different areas where keywords will impact a job search. One is your offline resume and the other is your online resume.

Optimizing Your Offline Resume

In a recent article on Mashable, Sharlyn Lauby wrote about How to Leverage Applicant Tracking Systems to Land a Job.¬†She is the HR Bartender, whose blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues, and is president of Internal Talent Management, which specializes in leadership training and human resources consulting. In the article, Lauby says that “Since paper applications are going the way of the dinosaur in favor of digital job postings, it only seems logical to have more automated recruitment processes. Along with increased technology in the hiring process, there can also be some challenges for the average jobseeker.”

But these Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can lead to frustration from job seekers when their resumes end up in the HR black hole. In order to prevent yours from ending up there, she recommends that you do some keyword optimization before submitting your resume. You can do this by:

  • Tailoring your resume so that the skills and experience are tailored to the job for which you’re applying. Don’t use a generic, catch-all resume.
  • Use keywords specifically mentioned in the job ad or listing. It’s likely that the ATS will be programmed to search resumes that match the job description in the listing.
  • She also recommends stuffing your resume with keywords by placing white text somewhere on the resume. This is not something I’d recommend, however. This is a practice that web search engines specifically look for and heavily penalize websites for attempting. If they don’t do it already, I’m sure that the ATS programs will catch up soon enough. I wouldn’t chance it.
  • Include your Twitter and LinkedIn profile on the resume.

Optimizing Your Online Resume

Hopefully, you’ve created a personal website using a web CMS like WordPress. If not, be sure to check out our free #CareerGravity Blueprint to learn why it’s important and how to do it. Creating an online resume with WordPress gets you a good distance down the road to optimizing your website, since it has so many search engine optimization features built in. But here’s a checklist to help make sure it’s up to snuff:

  • Use the “Category” feature in your CMS to organize your posts into skills. For example, if you’re a computer programmer be sure to create blog posts describing your important projects and tag them according to the technologies involved like VB.NET, Java, MySQL, etc…
  • Be sure to use URLs that contain keywords. If using WordPress, simply enabling permalinks takes care of this automatically.
  • Use page titles that contain important keywords.
  • Incorporate headings in your posts with keywords in them.

As you organize your personal branding messaging and compose your resumes, you can use these technologies to your advantage by being mindful of the keywords you’re using.