Last Updated: June, 2019
Keywords are an important part of landing a job. They are critical for attracting interest in your resume, Linkedin profile, and cover letter. They are also a critical part of finding jobs online. There are hundreds of jobs posted to online job boards every day. However, without searching the right keywords, you may not be finding all of them. In this post we will share our favorite tips for expanding your keyword options so that you can uncover even more jobs in your online job search, and increase your chances of landing a job.
Why Keywords Are Important for Your Online Job Search
Without knowing the right keywords in the online job search, you are basically doomed to not find your perfect job posting. Worse yet, you are wasting hours of precious time in a dead-end search!
From my headhunter years, spent searching online databases like Linkedin for talent, I learned that no matter how many times you search what you think might be the best words to describe your target candidate, it really depends on the words your targets used in their profiles. For example no matter how much I would search on words or phrases like: “marketing executive” I would never find my desired targets if they described themselves as “senior marketer.” Both keyword phrases describe the same thing using different keywords.
Key Concept: Multiple Keywords Describe the Same Thing
It’s like saying “goodbye” – I might say, “Goodbye” but you might say:
“See you later”
“Gotta take off”
“Have a good one”
It all means the same thing – just using different keywords. Thus, I learned VERY quickly the importance of figuring out a zillion different ways to say the same thing in order to produce a wide variety of results and ultimately get closer to finding that needle in the haystack candidate.
Using Keyword Synonyms Will Produce More Search Results
You need this skill if you are going to be successful in your online job search. Of course you also need keyword strategy when creating your Linkedin profile, resume and cover letter. The best strategy is one that incorporates all the synonyms for your role, industry, etc. In addition to synonym strategy, there are other ways to produce more new search results. I’ve come up with a few tips to help your keyword brainstorming for the purposes of online job searching.
1. Try All Possible Titles
Job titles vary from company to company. With the creation of new roles there are also new titles created regularly. Therefore you’ll want to try every possible keyword variation of titles to ensure you pick up the right title when searching job posting by title. For example, if you are in the Occupational Therapy field you would want to search terms like: “occupational therapist’ or ‘certified occupational therapist’ or ‘cota’ or ‘physical therapist’ or ‘speech language pathologist’ or ‘speech-language pathologist.’”
2. Search Using Nouns Instead of Verbs
Nouns are often stronger than verbs when it comes to hiring manager language within the job description. Instead of searching on “consulting” try its noun counterpart “consultant.”
3. Search Using a String of Keywords
Searching by keyword phrase is usually a good strategy when trying to whittle down the number of search results. The more specific you can be, with phrases or multiple keywords, the more focused your results will be returned around your specific target. For example, “Healthcare Consultant” will be a more strategic set of words than “consultant” alone. Try typing your keyword phrase inside a set of quotation marks to capture the exact phrase. Then try searching with quotation marks omitted. You might be surprised at how different the results may be.
4. Search by Educational Degrees & Certifications
Some professions have very specific degree requirements so why not see what’s out there by searching using degree strings? This can be especially helpful when you aren’t entirely sure which job you’re going after. Try “MBA” and then spell out, “Masters of Business Administration,” to see what turns up for each separate search. For more specialized degrees, the pool of jobs will be smaller. However, the pool of candidates is likely to be smaller as well. If an employer wants a very specialized candidate, and you have the right degree and experience, chances are you will be a close fit.
I had the opportunity to work with Noelle and it was an amazing experience. Her knowledge of the “job search” process is not only vast, but she taught me strategies for developing my career road map and the art form presenting my work experience to employers that I will use for the rest of my career. I am now able to move forward in my job search with confidence after working with Noelle. She is not only excellent at the work she does, but clearly cares about those she works with and invests herself in their success. – Margot, Product Management
5. Search by Unique Technology Expertise and Programs
Job seekers in the IT or technology field have very specific expertise around more complex technological systems, skills, etc. If you are master of a specific kind of technology, these keywords will be critical in pulling up the right jobs for you. Search by name of program or programming language for starters. Depending on what pops up you may want to try the same search with a combination of any of the other options listed in this post. I wouldn’t recommend searching by “Microsoft Word” or a program that most people are sure to know. Again, the idea is searching with keywords that would set you apart from the crowd. This way, you will increase your chances of standing out as one of of few people with expertise to perform the role well.
6. Search by Terms that Indicate First-Hand Foreign Market Expertise
Don’t forget about your second language or foreign market expertise when it comes to keyword searching. If you have a Latin background, for example, try searching on relevant words to your market and culture: “Spanish, Spanish language, bi-lingual, Latin America, Latin American, LATAM,” are all words companies use to describe their ideal candidate when it comes to global expertise in the U.S. market or other markets.
These are just some of the many ways you can focus on producing a whole new set of job postings. Think of yourself as a job description thesaurus when it comes to the online job search and you’ll be in good shape!
If you want more helpful ideas to produce better job search results, check out our popular coaching program Job Search Jumpstarter. It covers all the bases—resume, cover letter, LinkedIn support, and expert guidance from Noelle—to give you the best chance at getting hired.