Savvy job seekers use ATS keywords to help recruiters find them.
A Common Mistake People Make with the ATS & Keywords
Here’s the problem:
Many people don’t think about the possibility of 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.
Multiple Versions of Keywords
When I recruited, I tried to think of all the possible versions of the keyword I wanted to find. For instance, if one of my keywords was nonprofit, then my LinkedIn search string looked like this:
Nonprofit OR “Non-profit” OR “Not-for-Profit”
How to Find the Best ATS Keyword
But not every recruiter does that.
So when I write resumes, I check LinkedIn for the most common versions of keywords and use those.
I try to think of all the permutations recruiters might use.
Here are some examples:
- Nonprofit yields 1.9 million “people” results.
- “Non-profit” gives 319,000 hits.
- Not-for-profit gets 281,000 results.
Thus, I go with nonprofit in resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
- Attorney yields 3.2 million people results.
- Lawyer gives 1.3 million hits.
I use both of those keywords in attorneys’ resumes.
Scrum Master Keywords
- Scrum Master delivers 671,000 people results.
- Scrummaster gives 242,000 hits.
I use Scrum Master.
By the way, there’s a good story about that farther down this page.
- Health Care yields 5.4 million people results.
- Healthcare gives 10.7 million results.
I use healthcare in healthcare resumes.
- Recruiter is the winner with 2.2 million results.
- Talent Acquisition is next with 1.9 million results.
You’ll find several more recruiter keywords here.
The Best ATS Keyword
You get the point.
Now understand, recruiters might not build a search string to find all the versions of a keyword.
Because of that, you have to identify the keywords they’re most likely to use. Then you can put them in your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Always use the most common keyword.
Then, look for ways to weave other versions into your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Note: When responding to a job posting, use keywords mentioned in the posting.
A Happy Keyword Tale
Al Smith, co-author of Hired! Paths to Employment in the Social Media Era (not an affiliate) suggested I write this post.
Al said he looked for one of his clients by typing “Scrum Master” into LinkedIn. He couldn’t find him in his search results. Most recruiters will search on “Scrum Master” because there are 671,000 of them on LinkedIn.
It turns out Al’s client was using “ScrumMaster,” a keyword on about 242,000 LinkedIn profiles.
Consider if a recruiter looking for Scrum Masters hasn’t had any coffee. They might not think to check ScrumMaster.
Al had his client replace ScrumMaster with Scrum Master. After the change, his client ranked #15 in Al’s LinkedIn search results for Scrum Master.
I promised a happy tale. Yes, Al’s client got a job.
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© 2015 – 2023, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
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