Everything You Need To Know About Job Keywords

Updated July 3, 2023

Whether you're searching for a job or developing a job description, it's important that you make use of valuable keywords. Keywords make it easier for candidate's to find jobs and employers to find qualified candidates to hire. By reviewing frequently asked questions about job keywords and their uses in different formats, you can learn how to maximize your keyword usage and, in doing so, meet your goals.

In this article, we define job keywords, explain why they're important and review frequently asked questions about job keywords for job candidates and employers.

Related: Get Your Resume Seen With ATS Keywords

What are keywords for jobs and why are they important?

Keywords for jobs are words or phrases that describe skills, personality traits or qualifications. Job keywords can also include terms relating to company work culture, specific job titles or job locations. Job searchers use keywords to search for relative job openings online and to tailor their professional documents to a particular job opening. Employers use job keywords to create enhanced job posts that appear frequently in search engines. Using job keywords is important for several reasons, including:

  • Helps job candidates stand out: When candidates incorporate the right keywords into their resume, cover letter and other professional materials, they might have a better chance of getting noticed by employers or hiring managers. This is because a lot of companies use ATS software, which includes a keyword search to select applications with the most relative keywords to the job description.

  • Allows employers to reach more professionals: When employers use keywords in their job postings, they have an opportunity for their postings to appear in more searches than those of their competitors. This gives them the potential to maximize the amount of applications they receive for a job opening and gives them a wider candidate pool to choose from.

  • Ensures employers connect with the right professionals: Keyword use can also benefit employers by helping to make sure they attract the right candidates for job openings. This is because the keywords employers decide to incorporate into job postings affect the searches they appear in. Therefore, by selecting strategic keywords, employers have an opportunity to find a variety of qualified candidates for job openings.

  • Gives professionals the opportunity to find the right jobs: When employers use the right keywords in job postings and professionals use the right keywords in their job search, this helps enhance the quality of search results that professionals receive. It also ensures that professionals focus their time and energy on opportunities that meet their criteria and qualifications.

Related: What Are Long-Tail Keywords? Plus How to Find and Use Them

FAQs about job keywords for professional documents

Placing the right keywords in your professional documents helps you get noticed by hiring managers who use keyword software. It also helps enhance your professionalism by associating you and your qualifications with relative industry terms. Here are some frequently asked questions about how to find and incorporate keywords into your professional documents including your resume, cover letter and professional networking profiles:

Is there a difference between cover letter keywords and resume keywords?

No, there isn't a difference between cover letter keywords and resume keywords. You can use the same keywords and phrases in both documents. However, cover letters provide a format where you can elaborate on keywords further by going into detail about your previous professional experiences, education and personality traits that make you right for the job.

Download Cover Letter Template With Example

To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

How do you know what the right keywords are?

You can determine the right keywords for your resume and cover letter by referencing the job description. Typically, employers include a variety of characteristics and relevant qualifications that the right candidate should have. For example, an employer states that a qualified candidate should be outgoing and enthusiastic, with experience in inbound marketing and data-pulling software. Using this example, you should incorporate the terms "outgoing" and "enthusiastic" in your resume objective and cover letter document and incorporate the terms "inbound marketing" and "data-pulling software" into your skills section, professional experiences section and education section.

For a professional profile, portfolio or website, you can research common keywords that relate to your industry and specific job titles you want to pursue in order to maximize engagement from employers.

How many keywords should you include in your professional documents?

You can use as many keywords as you want in your resume, cover letter and professional profile as long as you intersperse them throughout instead of placing multiple keywords together. It's also important to make sure you don't repeat keywords within the same document. When you repeat keywords in the same document, it's called keyword stuffing. By making sure you don't repeat keywords, you can help make your professional documents more appealing and unique.

Where should keywords go on your professional documents?

You can intersperse keywords in several places on your resume, cover letter or professional profile. Here are some examples for each:

  • Resume: Include keywords throughout your resume in your resume objective or summary, skill section, education section, professional experiences and additional accomplishments.

  • Cover letter: You can place keywords in your cover letter in the intro and body paragraphs. Particularly when describing your previous accomplishments or qualifications and your soft skills.

  • Professional profile: If you use a professional social media network, you can also incorporate keywords on your profile. Focus areas include your bio, introduction, skills section and anywhere you mention your previous work experiences.

Download Resume Template

To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

What do I do if I'm still not hearing from employers after adding keywords to my professional documents?

If you think you've incorporated all the right keywords but still aren't hearing from employers, there are a few things to consider. Here's a guide to help you identify potential areas to enhance your chances of getting an interview:

  1. Review your resume and cover letter to check for potential errors.

  2. Look at the original job posting and compare it to your experiences and qualifications.

  3. Create job alerts to make sure you're one of the first to apply for a job to get noticed quicker.

  4. Continue tailoring your professional documents to new job opportunities.

Should I change a previous job title on my resume to match that of the job posting?

You should only change or alter one of your previous job titles to reflect a job posting if your industry usually uses these job titles interchangeably. An example of this would be if you worked as a marketing director and the job posting lists the title as director of marketing. In this situation, you can change your job title for keyword purposes. Altering your job title to match the job posting enhances your chances of getting noticed if an employer does a keyword search.

Related: How to Use Keywords and Phrases in Your Resume and Cover Letter ( With Tips and Examples)

FAQs about keywords for tailored job searching

When looking for jobs on search engines or job search websites, inputting the right keywords into the search bar can influence the scope of results you get. Review these frequently asked questions about how to use keywords during your job search to find job openings that appeal to your interests and qualifications:

How many keywords can I input in a search engine?

Typically, you should try to get your keyword search terms as specific as you can to help enhance the quality of the search results. An example of this would be: "Entry level IT support specialist jobs in Baylor, Ohio." Besides doing an internet search, job search websites give you the option of inputting keywords like job titles, qualifications or skill levels and employment locations.

What are examples of job search keywords I should use?

Job search keywords can include a variety of terms and phrases pertaining to your job needs. Here are a few examples of what you can use as keywords to search for jobs:

  • Company names

  • Job titles

  • Job locations

  • Salary ranges

  • Experience levels

  • Work type (part-time, full-time, remote)

  • Job responsibilities

What if a keyword I used to search doesn't offer any results?

If a keyword you use doesn't provide you with enough search results, you can either choose a related keyword to see if that provides more job listings, or you can use a different search engine or job search website to find job postings you wouldn't otherwise.

Should I apply for a job if it only includes one of my search keywords?

Technically, you shouldn't apply to a job if it only meets one of your job criteria. However, it depends on the contents of the job post and whether you're willing to compromise on one or more items. For example, you can still potentially benefit from applying to a job if the job post uses different keywords to describe the same responsibilities or skills you have. Similarly, you can still apply for a job with slightly different salary expectations or experience level requirements if you're interested in the position.

Related: How to Conduct a Job Search by Skills

FAQs about job title keywords used to attract candidates

As an employer, hiring manager or HR professional, your use of job title keywords affects the visibility of your job posts and the candidates you engage with. Look over these frequently asked questions to find out more about how you can use keywords as an employer or hiring manager to attract top-tier talent:

How many keywords should I include in a job posting?

You should incorporate up to five keywords in a job posting. This is because it makes you think strategically and choose the best keywords. It also helps ensure that you receive better ratings on search engine results pages.

Related: How to Write a Great Job Post

Should I include one or more alternative job titles in the job posting to enhance visibility?

Yes, including a few alternative job titles in the job positing increases your chances of appearing on search results pages when candidates search for similar positions. To do this, keep the main header with the job title the same, but include one or two interchangeable job titles below it in parentheses. For example, if you have a job post for an accountant position, include the titles staff accountant and general accountant.

What is keyword researching and is it worth it?

Keyword researching is the process by which you use keyword research tools and competitor listings to develop a set of beneficial keywords. It's worth it to complete keyword research because it provides you with a foundation on which to write your job description and allows you to enhance existing job postings and their visibility.

What do I do if my keyword-tailored job posting isn't attracting the right candidates?

First, review the job posting itself to see how specific it is. Consider whether you could add more information about job responsibilities, employee benefits, company information or salary offerings to attract interest. Then complete keyword research to see if there are more strategic words or phrases you can use. Also, think about the platforms you're using to advertise job openings at your company and consider expanding to new platforms to maximize your candidate pool.

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