Smart passive and active job seekers use keywords to help recruiters find them in applicant tracking systems, on job boards, and on LinkedIn.
The Common Mistake People Make with Resume Keywords
The problem is, many people don’t stop to think about the possibility that there might be more than one version of a resume 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’m recruiting, 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 Not-for-Profit.
When I’m writing 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 are going to look for the most common keyword to get the most hits. They 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 permutations for recruiter, check here.
Easily Mistaken Keywords
I’m noticing 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 that 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, he ranked number 15 in Al’s LinkedIn’s search results for Scrum Master. That’s page two – most recruiters get there and beyond when they’re looking for candidates, so he was golden.
I promised a happy tale. Yes, he got a job.
Audit Your Resume and LinkedIn Keywords
Pull up your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Look for keywords that might have more common 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 be using to find you. Per Renee’s comment below, it’s a good idea to also use the less common version. I do this on my clients’ LinkedIn profiles in particular.
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.
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I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at email@example.com for more information.