Smart job seekers use keywords to help recruiters find them in applicant tracking systems, on job boards, and on LinkedIn.
The Most Common Keyword Mistake
The problem is, many people don’t stop to think about the possibility there might be more than one version of a keyword.
Consider the words I’ve written so far in this post:
- Keywords could be key words.
- Job seekers could be jobseekers.
- Applicant tracking systems could be ATS or ATSs or ATS’s.
Not All Recruiters Compensate for Multiple Versions of Keywords
When I recruit, I try to think of all the possible versions of the keyword I want to find. For instance, if one of my keywords is nonprofit, then my search string will look like this:
- Nonprofit OR Non-profit OR Not-for-Profit.
When I write resumes, I check LinkedIn for the most common version of my clients’ keywords and use those. For example:
- 862,422 members use CPA on their profile, while only 5,956 use C.P.A.
- 3 million members use MBA. 1.1 million use M.B.A.
You get the point, right? Recruiters might or might not build a search string to find all the possible versions of a given keyword.
BTW, if you want to see all of the keyword possibilities for recruiter, check here.
Easily Mistaken Keywords
I’ve noticed these categories of easily mistaken keywords:
- New-ish compound keywords (like keywords).
- Abbreviations (MBA or M.B.A., CPA or C.P.A.).
- Synonyms (recruiter, search consultant, headhunter, etc.).
If you can think of other categories, or good examples for the listed categories, please share them in the Comments section below.
A Happy Keyword Tale
Al Smith, President of Transition Sherpa, and co-author of Hired! Paths to Employment in the Social Media Era (not an affiliate), suggested I write this post.
He said he looked for one of his clients by typing “Scrum Master” into LinkedIn and couldn’t find him in his search results. Most recruiters will search on “Scrum Master” because there are over 36,000 of them on LinkedIn.
It turns out Al’s client was using “ScrumMaster,” a keyword that’s on about 5,400 LinkedIn profiles. Consider, if the Scrum Master seeking recruiter hasn’t had any caffeine yet, s/he might not think to check ScrumMaster too.
Al had his client replace ScrumMaster with Scrum Master. After the change, his client ranked #15 in Al’s LinkedIn’s search results for Scrum Master.
I promised a happy tale. Yes, Al’s client got a job.
Audit Your Resume and LinkedIn Keywords
Pull up your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Look for keywords that might have alternatives. Ask a friend to check too.
Then search on LinkedIn for each possibility. Go with the most common version of each of your keywords because those are the ones recruiters will likely use to find you.
Per Renee’s comment below, it’s a good idea to use the less common version(s) too.
Note: When responding to a job posting, be sure to use the keywords mentioned in the posting too. If you’re not sure what they are, ask yourself, “Which words in this text would I search on to find people like me in a database?” That should get you there.
Let’s Connect on LinkedIn
Please don’t hesitate to invite me to connect on LinkedIn here. The more I know about my readers, the better I can make my blog.
I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at email@example.com for more information.
Updated May 2017
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