July 21, 2024

How To Use Keywords To Strengthen Your Personal Brand

Recruitment is changing as employers continue to scramble for employees, in-person networking is still a thing of the past, and in-person interaction is just now slowly making a comeback. Recruiting trends are focusing on the candidate experience while streamlining the hiring process. 

What does that mean for job hunters? 

Used by the majority of the Fortune 500, a key 2022 trend is the increased reliance and use of more advanced applicant tracking systems (ATS). ATS filters resumes and cover letters based on keywords, decreasing the time-to-hire by as reported by 86% of recruiters, and this improves the bottom line. But this is not without consequence to job seekers.

Keywords are vital in today’s job search – not only in your resume and cover letter but across your social platforms and networking sites. Keywords help increase your visibility and improve your chances of landing your dream job. Today, you need a personal SEO strategy.

According to Job Hunt, there are three areas where to focus your keywords: personal, professional goals, and work history. 

Personal Keywords:

Your personal keywords include your name, target location, languages you speak, and education. Your name needs to match on all your social platforms (especially LinkedIn) and resume. Use your full name online unless you use an abbreviated name on your resume and all other printed materials you use such as business cards. Also, include your full name as your signature on email. 

Also make sure you use the English version of languages you speak: ie. “Spanish,” not “español,” if your profile is written in English. This ensures the proper keyword would be discovered by recruiters.

Professional Goals Keywords:

Choose keywords for the position you want. Include industry keywords as well. Here’s where a few hours exploring job posting will pay off. What words are recurring for the positions you want? Research industry keywords to include. 

Work History Keywords:

Most of your keywords will be used here. Again, make sure you’ve done your research and know what keywords employers are using. You need to be truthful when using keywords. The trick is using the words employers use to describe work you do. 

If the company you work for uses puns for job titles like Marketing Guru, change that to read Marketing Manager – if the title matches what you actually do. Where you have a lot of liberty is hard and soft skills. There are a lot of ways to say you have rock-solid communication skills including problem solving, confident speaking ability, active listening, and collaboration to name a few.

Use enough keywords when describing your experience, skills, certifications, and job-specific tools and techniques without overstuffing. Your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter need to be readable.  

Think like a recruiter. If you submitted a cover letter and resume, the recruiter is definitely going to search your LinkedIn profile. But recruiters also search LinkedIn for viable clients even when they haven’t received a resume. In fact, 95% of recruiters say they search LinkedIn to find candidates for open positions. LinkedIn reports that 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent not actively job hunting.

Your keywords need to be an exact match. Job Hunt uses the example of a job description requiring “Microsoft Word” experience. If your resume states “highly skilled with Microsoft Office products” it will not meet the search criteria. You may be well versed in Microsoft Office but if the majority of job postings are only asking for Microsoft Word, you need to include Microsoft Word. 

How do you apply keywords to your other social channels? Use your full name or the variation of your name that appears on LinkedIn and your resume. On Facebook you can add keywords to the “about” section of your profile. Instagram allows a short description below your name and title. The same is true for Twitter.

Consistency matters. Your resume and social profiles should paint a picture of who you are, what you do, and where you want to go. Spending time quing into keywords will pay off in spades.

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