Getting hired with keyword research

October 25, 2012

Human Resources professionals will tell you that in a competitive labor market, job seekers must compete to be the most visible to recruiters and hiring managers who are searching for their skill set.

Most recruiters aren’t searching Google for their prospects, instead they use job boards like Monster and Indeed or increasingly, professional social networks like LinkedIn, XING (German speakers) or Viadeo (French speakers).

But what exactly are recruiters searching for? Just like a company ranking in Google for a phrase that no customer searches for, if recruiters aren’t searching for what you’re ‘visible’ for then it’s not going to help you get a job.

Most of the time a recruiter or hiring manager is looking for candidates with experience similar to the job they are recruiting for so they will be searching for job titles and skills relating to the open job.

Therefore by understanding the language used in open jobs you can indirectly understand what is being searched for by the people you might want to find and hire you.

To do this accurately you’ll need a huge index of jobs; step forward – a site whose business model revolves around aggregating jobs from employers and other job boards with circa 3 million listings in the United States alone.

Therefore if we want to see the numbers of times a phrase is used in a job ad, it’s simply a matter of running a job search, use the ‘With the exact phrase’ field of the Indeed advanced search and checking the number of results returned for that phrase.

As a practical example let’s take a computer security specialist who is deciding whether to optimise primarily as an IT Security or Information Security specialist.

Exact text matches (USA) 16th October 2012

KeywordJobs returned
it security5,113
information security11,582

From this we can see that there are roughly double the number of jobs referencing ‘information security’.

Or let’s say an SEO type that wanted to appear prominently in recruiters’ searches (and what SEO would turn down the challenge?);

Exact text matches (USA) 16th October 2012

KeywordJobs returned
search engine optimization2,659
natural search218
organic search365

Here we can see that SEO is by far the most popular term referenced in job ads and therefore it is the most suitable synonym to optimise for.

Obviously it is important to use the description most appropriate for your skill-set, if you really do know more about IT Security than Information Security you should optimise for that. But where there are straightforward synonyms like SEO and Search Engine Optimiztion, while you should use all of them somewhere in your C.V. and profile, you can make yourself ‘more visible’ just by concentrating on the most popular phrases.

Optimise your CV (resume) and LinkedIn profile with the search terms used by recruiters and hiring managers.

Chris Reynolds is a Bay Area Product Manager with 15 years of international experience in SEO, digital marketing, UX, analytics and team management.

© 2023 Chris Reynolds