To Be Hired, Be Found: Your Best Keywords

WorkCoachCafeA critical aspect for a successful job search and career — now — is being quickly and easily find-able online. Like actors, actresses, and other public figures, the age of anonymity is over for most of us. Best to embrace it, and make the best of it.

We can — and should — keep big parts of our lives private (like our children’s names and ages, our home addresses, etc.). But, we do need to have a “public” face we show to the world, one that supports our job search and careers.

No Profile or Low Profile = No or Low Credibility

Most employers are flooded with applications for every job posted, currently. So, they must quickly screen those applicants to determine who is qualified for the job and who isn’t. Typically, the vast majority of applicants are not qualified.

Minimal online visibility causes several problems for those invisible job seekers.

  • Employers verify the information on resumes and job applications by comparing the submissions to the public profiles.
  • Employers observe applicant behavior.
  • Employers evaluate applicant communications skills.
  • Employers consider the applicant’s “fit” within the organization.

If you have too low a profile on the Internet, you are invisible. If you are invisible, nothing about you can be quickly and easily verified or evaluated. So, invisibility guarantees a failure in the initial screening.

Your application may be forwarded for consideration anyway, or laid aside for more research “later.” But, depending on such exceptional treatment is dangerous today.

You may choose the invisibility option, but it is an option that ensures a longer job search.

How to Be Find-able

Being find-able is not difficult with all of the social media we have available to us now. That’s the best place to start, and also, potentially, the most dangerous.

1. Choose — and consistently use —  the same name for your public visibility and job search/career.

This is the name you use on your resumes and job applications. This name is a “clean” name — no one’s “digital dirt” (your dirt or anyone else’s) is stuck to this name.

If you are smart, you use a different name for any of your sports, political, or religious ranting online and any other questionable behavior online.

2. Set up a complete LinkedIn profile

Using your professional name, you set up your LinkedIn profile, and you make sure that your profile is complete, according to LinkedIn’s criteria, so that you will reap the greatest benefit from your efforts on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn defines a complete profile as one with:

  • Your industry and location
  • An up-to-date current position (with a description)
  • Two past positions
  • Your education
  • Your skills (minimum of 3)
  • A profile photo —
    Make it a good head shot of you, by yourself — no significant other, children, pets, family members, co-workers, etc.
  • At least 50 connections —
    More connections are better, both for credibility and visibility. Shoot for at least 300.

Without a complete profile, you have limited visibility in searches of LinkedIn.

According to LinkedIn, “Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.”

3. Focus on your best keywords.

To attract the best opportunities for you, use the keywords most likely to be used by the employers you want for the jobs you want.

Keywords are the words that recruiters and employers use to search for applicants qualified for the job they are trying to fill. Keywords are also the words that we all use to find people to add to our professional networks.

The main keywords used to find people we don’t know, both for hiring and for networking, are basic:

  • Job title
  • Industry/profession
  • Location
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Employer name (current or former)
  • Education (school and degree)
  • Professional certifications

One of the best places to research the best is mega-job board’s free JobTrends tool. It analyzes the contents of the millions of job descriptions on the Indeed site and shows you how often those terms are used now and have been used in the past (back to 2005).

Choose Your Best Keywords — Two Examples

Use the “most popular” version of your keywords that are appropriate for you.

First, supplement odd or quirky keywords with standard terms —

For example, assume that you are the senior administrative assistant for a small company. But, your official job title at work is “Wizard of Administrative Services.” No one else uses that job title for the job, so if you use “Wizard of Administrative Services” on your resume and LinkedIn profile, you’ll be invisible in a job title search (one of the most frequently done).

Time for you to become a “slash person” — like this, “Wizard of Administrative Services/Senior Administrative Assistant.” You are respecting your employer’s quirky title, being accurate (if asked, that’s what they’ll probably tell people you do), and also using the keywords that your future employer is probably using in their searches of LinkedIn, Indeed, and job boards.

Second, research to discover which term is used most often (and which are ignored) —

For example, assume you have earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. It’s referred to as:

  • Project Management Professional
  • PMP
  • Certified PMP
  • PMP Certified

Does it matter which term you use since they all mean the same thing? YES! It matters quite a bit! Two out of 100 employers use “Project Management Professional” while fewer than 0.001% use “PMP certified” and no one uses “certified PMP” in their job descriptions. So, they very likely aren’t searching on those little-used terms either.

[Related: How to Identify Exactly the Right Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile on]

Bottom Line

Don’t ignore this critical aspect for a successful job search and career — being find-able online. Employers verify the information on resumes, observe behavior and communications skills, and evaluate “fit” with an organization. If nothing is there, you usually lose opportunities.

More About Being Hired

To Be Hired: Be Referred

To Be Hired: Be Focused About the Job You Want

More About Being Find-Able

Finding the Right Keywords for Your Resume

How to Get Noticed by Recruiters

Using the Right Keywords on Your Resume

Using the Right Keywords in Your Email Message


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPostAOL Jobs, and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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