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Keywords 101

Keywords are super important when you are applying for jobs. In order to get past HR - both the computer version (Applicant Tracking Software; ATS) and human version - you'll need to make sure all aspects of your job application contain keywords from the position description or job ad.

If you fail to incorporate key words you won't even make it to the 'maybe' pile!

The keywords you need to include in your application are the skills (key selection criteria) the employer is seeking. Some examples of these key words might be: leadership, innovation, communication, project management, teamwork, database management, procurement and customer service.

Another very important keyword is the job title.

So follow these steps to keyword optimise your next job application and ensure you are selected for an 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 to the role, including the job title.

2. Include the key words in your resume

You don't want to over-do it, and you certainly don't want to cut and paste their requirements into your resume (remember, humans will read it once it gets past the robot).

However, a sprinkling of the key words in your resume in the appropriate places will show that you are the right person for the job.

So where should you include the key words?

  • Professional 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...".

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

  • 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 resume, 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 resume. And choose the keywords in your headline carefully, as these are picked up the searches.

Do not leave your headline as the default current job title, explain who you are using keywords!


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