Everyone keeps telling me I need to have “keywords” in my resume. What the hell are they talking about?

Keywords, keywords, and more keywords. You MUST have keywords in your resume is the advice that is flying around about resumes at the moment.  I agree, having lots of relevant keywords in your resume is great and is definitely something that you should be doing. 

However, it is clear that not a lot of people know what keywords they should be using or where they should be putting them.  The frequently asked questions will help you know what keywords are, how to know which ones are the right ones for your industry, and finally how to use them to help you with your job search.

1 – What are keywords and why are they important?

Keywords are the key terms or words that someone looking to fill the kinds of roles that you are applying for will use to assess the suitability of your job application.  They are what the applicant tracking system will use to assess your suitability for the job.  They are words that might be used to search a candidate database when recruiters are looking for candidates.  They are the words that a hiring manager will be looking out for when they are scanning your resume as part of the shortlisting process. As you can see, keywords are very important when it comes to your job search.

2 – What are the relevant keywords for my industry?

It doesn’t quite work that way.  It’s not about the keywords for your industry but more about the keywords for the specific role that you are applying for.  You will need to look at the job advert or job description (If you are applying via a referral or if you don’t have access to a job advert or job description use a job advert that is similar) and find the key terms that the recruiter or hiring manager will be looking for in your job application.  You then need to ensure that you have these keywords in your resume.  If you don’t have the skill that the keyword is describing, then don’t put it in.  You might find that you are not able to include a lot of the keywords, if this is the case then maybe that job isn’t for you.  I always recommend applying for the role if you can add in 75% or more of the keywords.  If you can do this then you will be in a great position when it comes time to shortlist candidates.

3 – So does this mean that I have to update my resume and cover letter for every job I apply for?

Absolutely!  When it comes to applying for a great new job it is best to tailor your resume and cover letter to the specifics of the job that you are applying for.  This will show the recruiter just how closely you match up to the job.  You might like to try the jobscan tool that will look for keywords in your resume and compare this to the keywords in the job advert.  Visit https://www.jobscan.co/ to scan your resume.

4 – How do I use keywords in LinkedIn?

You will need to know the kinds of jobs that you will be applying for then you will need to find the keywords that best suit those kinds of jobs.  If you are applying for roles as a receptionist as an example, you will know that the keywords will be things like meet and greet customers, customer service, and administration. You will then include these terms in your LinkedIn profile about section, as part of your experience, include these terms in your skills and any other place that they would suit.  I like to think of these keywords as the kinds of things that someone looking to fill the kinds of jobs that I am applying for will use to search for candidates. 

5 – How do I use keywords in a job interview

This one is super easy.  When you are preparing for your job interview be sure to do lots of research on the company including the company values and culture.  Use the keywords from the job advert and the keywords from the research you have done throughout your interview to describe you and your skills, strengths and experience. The interviewers will be able to clearly see how you will be a great fit for the job.

Now that you know what keywords are and how to use them in your job search, you might like to use the Y Executive keyword matrix.  The keyword matrix is designed to help you figure out the keywords that best describe you and your skills, strengths and experience. Reach out if you are interested in receiving this by emailing us at hello@yexecutive.com. If you are on the hunt for a great new job you might find other useful advice at the Y Executive blog page https://yexecutive.com/blog/

Skye London

Career Coach | Career development | Job Search

Skye London is Co-founder and Lead Career Coach at Y Executive. With a passion for coaching and extensive experience in all things recruitment Skye has developed a reputation as the go to person for help with your career.
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