The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting: Is a lack of keywords causing your CV to be missed?

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Using good keywords in your CV will lead to interviews!

With the shift to online and digital recruitment, as well as the widespread use of computerised back office support systems, I would guess that 80% of all submitted CVs (if not more!) get processed by software, and stored on a server or database in a digitized format.

The first time your CV gets human attention is when it surfaces in a search. That’s why most job applicants don’t receive responses from companies after submitting their CVs.

So it makes sense that, in order to increase your CV’s chances of being at least viewed by a human (Even if it’s not thereafter considered as suitable) you have to understand the process and work within it to maximise your chances.

Most database searches in recruitment terms are based on keywords derived from job descriptions, whether these are conducted by inhouse recruiters or external recruitment agencies. The keywords are input into the database query, and results are returned in the form of a list. Its not much different from doing a Google search, except the database being interrogated is full of CVs. This is also how your CV may be discovered on the jobs boards like Jobsite or Monster.

The trick is to ensure that you embed sufficient keywords in your CV so that it pops up in the relevant searches for the jobs you want to be considered for. So, what’s the best way to find those magical keywords?

The simplest way to do it is to search the jobs boards for examples of job requirements in the areas you want to be employed. The same words will be repeated, or there will be some common denominators.

An obvious keyword is to include the name of the industry you work in: It is surprising how many people work in the automotive aftermarket, for example, but those words are nowhere in their CVs!

Job title is another one: If you have a current job title that is not entirely descriptive of your job (For example Administration Executive – It could mean anything!) change it something commonplace. If you are responsible for people and work in sales, call yourself Sales Manager rather than Director. This small difference could make a vast change to how many times your CV appears in searches. There are less jobs for Directors than managers in the economy – The word Director indicates board level involvement. If you are not on the board, don’t use the word in your CV.

The word “sales” is complex – It appears in virtually everyone’s CV! If you work in sales, make sure you stand out from the crowd by adding in the names and brands of the products you sold. Recruiters don’t want to look at 3 million CVs, so when searching in sales they are likely to use a combination of words to reduce the number of results. It makes sense: If I am recruiting for a salesperson to work for a brake and clutch manufacturer in the aftermarket, those are the keywords I will use and then broaden the search if I don’t get a satisfactory result.

If you work in an industry with specialist jargon, it might serve to include some of those in your CV (Always use brackets to explain the acronym in case someone who reads your CV doesn’t understand it). The same goes for global system keywords – For example, system names like SAP or JD Edwards are buzzwords.

So go on – When is the last time you revamped your CV? If you are taking your job search seriously, by optimising the keywords today you will have an immediate impact on how many times your details are viewed.

Written by Cathy Richardson

October 31, 2011 at 10:09 am

Posted in Recruitment

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