Online Resume Keyword Research – Online Job Hunting with SEO: Part I of III

The world of work has changed and job hunting has changed with it. Most professional jobs require proficiency with computers and use of the Internet, so why shouldn’t job hunting today require job hunters to have a clue about using the web to find their job?

Candidates: You must have a clue about SEO to get hired today! (Image courtesy of

I regularly get calls every week from recruiters, even when I am not actively searching for a job, due in no small part to the detailed search optimization I have done over the years that keeps my resume and name top of mind (and top of “mouse”;-) to recruiters.

This three-part series  shares some of my tried and true techniques I have developed for writing and marketing yourself to employers and recruiters via keyword research, a search-optimized resume, and online resume postings. The other two posts include:

So let’s read on about researching those SEO terms…

Part I of III: Online Resume Keyword Research

First, you will need to do some in-depth SEO keyword research for words to use before you can start writing a resume that will get you found online.

1)     How do you think like a recruiter?  

In order for your resume to be found, you need to think like a recruiter— and like a search engine.  What gets a resume found? All job sites are just specialized search engines, and like Google, they respond to the user (a recruiter or employer) typing in keywords and phrases and displaying the best matches to those words. You need for your resume to show up on more of these searches in order to be increase your odds of getting found… and hired. Therefore, you need to do search optimization for your target market: recruiters and employers.

As so often happens, what if the searcher is someone from Human Resources department who is not familiar with the job for which they are searching for candidates to screen and pass on to the hiring manager? In that case, they will use the exact wording in the job announcement to search for candidates who have these same skills. They will not understand that “viral marketing” and “WOM marketing” (Word-of-mouth) are the same thing. This means your resume has to contain the phrases and terms that closely match the majority of the job announcements in your field.

I recommend hunting for job announcements using the search engines on online job sites so you can understand what keywords are used for which job types in which industries, as recruiters will have to use the same search engines you do in when they search for online resumes like yours stored on these job sites.

Notice how the different job announcements appear when you use different keyword phrases.

Is there a particular company you are targeting? Then find job announcements from this company and look at their web site and see what they ask for and how they phrase their desired skills.

A list of job boards appear in Part III of this series.

2)     Does one industry use different terms for the same concept?

One example that I ran into was for a position in the auto industry. The job called for experience with “disintermediation” which is just another term for the channel conflict of a manufacturer who wants to sell direct to the public without alienating its dealers/ distributors.  In this case, I had that experience but had not referred to it as such, so I updated my resume to include this term in my keyword list.

Another example highlights the differences between the related fields of marketing, advertising and public relations. In marketing, one aims toward a target market, while in advertising you focus on a target audience, and public relations you try to attract a key public. To sound relevant to companies in one industry or another, you need to use the correct phrasing.

However, the most problematic example is for government employees entering the private sector, since most government jobs and tasks have their own peculiar terminology. For example, an Assistant or Associate Director may actually have oversight over a billion-dollar budget in the federal government, but to the private sector this sounds like a junior-level position. A Director of a government agency is the equivalent to the President or CEO out in private industry. And “public affairs” in government is “public relations” in the rest of the world. Therefore, public sector employees looking to get a job in the private sector need to do extensive research to identify the correct private industry equivalent words and phrases used for their job title and responsibilities and use them in their resume.

 3)     What skills are employers looking for these days that you should most emphasize?

Read job announcements in your field and find the key phrases that seem to be used over and over, and make them prominent on your resume. I usually cut and paste phrases and words I like into a draft Word document for later use.

4)     Has the terminology changed since you last updated your resume?

For example, at the beginning of ecommerce, some folks called it e-tailing or electronic commerce, but you also see online sales, online retail, online shopping, digital commerce, online commerce, or e-commerce. Today, most of the industry has standardized on the term “ecommerce.”

If you are using older terminology, you may need to tweak both your resume and your own speech patterns so you sound up-to-date.

5)     What keywords will a recruiter likely use to find your resume?

The same prominent skill set keyword phrases that you identified in step 3 would definitely be possibilities for a recruiter to use as search terms, but are not the only ones.

QUESTIONS FOR MY READERS (Respond in a comment): What keywords have worked for you? Are there organizations to which most experienced people in that field belong? Are there certifications that are desired or required? Make sure you have all certifications and organizations listed on your resume, including the common initials used for them.

Meanwhile, start your research!

– Michele Bartram


4 responses to “Online Resume Keyword Research – Online Job Hunting with SEO: Part I of III

  1. Pingback: Writing a search optimized online resume- Part II of III Online Job Hunting with SEO | Web Practices Blog by Michele Bartram

  2. Thanks Michele for this post. I’m currently in job search mode and your tips and insight are most helpful.

  3. Pingback: Posting your online resume for maximum results- Online Job Hunting with SEO: Part III of III | Web Practices Blog by Michele Bartram

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