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Keywords are your friend

Keywords are powerful things in the job hunt game. In order to get past HR - both the robot version (document trawling software) and human version - you'll need to make sure all aspects of your job application contain keywords from the position description or job ad. Otherwise your job application won't even make it to the 'maybe' pile.

Keywords are generally the skills the employer is seeking. Some examples: leadership, innovation, communication, project management, teamwork, database management, procurement and customer service. Another very important keyword is the job title.

So next time you are applying for a job, follow these steps to keyword optimise your job application and ensure you make it to interview:

1. Make a list of all the key words contained in the job ad or position description.

You'll find the key words in the 'what we are looking for', 'skills required' or from the 'Key Selection Criteria' sections. Don't just include skills though, make sure you add in any words that seem important in the role, including the job title.

2. Include the key words in your CV.

You don't want to over-do it, and you certainly don't want to cut and paste their requirements into your CV (remember, humans will read your CV once it gets past the robot). However, a sprinkling of the key words in your CV (2-3 mentions of each maximum) in the appropriate places will show that you are the right person for the job. So where should you include the key words?

  • In your profile: Switch some of your skills/attributes for the equivalent keyword. Try to incorporate the job title. For example, if you are a Project Officer applying for a Policy Officer role, you might change your profile to say: "I am a skilled policy and project officer...".

  • In your skills list: Change the name of your skills to match their language. For example, you might switch 'problem solving' for 'conceptual ability'.

  • In some of your achievements: Your achievements is where you should be reiterating your skills, so again, make sure you use some of their keywords/language.

3. Include the key words in your cover letter.

As with your CV, make sure you use the job title and keywords throughout, reiterating your skills, attributes and achievements and how you are a perfect fit for the job.

4. Include the key words in your LinkedIn profile.

You should also update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your CV. And choose the keywords in your headline carefully, as these picked up the searches. Do not leave your headline as the default current job title, explain it using keywords!


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