By Bayside Group

Jun 16, 2020

Resume keywords and search functionality: how to get noticed in a job seeker database

Do you feel as though everyone else is getting approached for job interviews except you? If yes, then know you are not alone. The problem however, may not be your skills or qualifications, though these are of course essential, but your ‘searchability’ on online databases.

You see, when you apply for a role with a company or recruitment agency, there’s a chance your resume and profile will be saved within a database, so that when a suitable role becomes available, the Hiring Manager can simply conduct a database search and a list of appropriate candidates will appear. Job seeker platforms, such as SEEK, LinkedIn and Indeed, use a similar system that sees job seekers’ details and resumes saved when they apply for a job through the platform. Employers can then use the search functionality to look for potential candidates that have the skills for the role. These platforms can also make recommendations based on the searches Hiring Managers and employers are conducting.

To improve your searchability and increase your chances of being found in these databases, it is worthwhile to use basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) principles, such as keywords and effective search functionality.

This is something many candidates don’t consider when writing their job applications, as they don’t understand just how important key words and simple language can be with helping a database search pick up exactly what it is a recruiter has asked it to.

If you haven’t considered including some of these strategies into your resume, here’s how you can start.


Carefully consider keywords

A website can have great information, but if it doesn’t include the phrases and keywords a searcher would look for, it’s unlikely to be found online. Similarly, your resume should include keywords that align with those recruiters and employers use, as that is likely what will help make your name pop up in a database of potentially thousands of job applicants.

When it comes to selecting the most effective keywords to include in your resume, review job postings, the LinkedIn profiles of people in your desired role and, most importantly, be sure to align your keywords with the key criteria in the original job posting. According to SEEK, employers want to know you have the capabilities needed for the role they’re recruiting for, so it’s very important to complete the Skills and Education sections of your profile. Also, make sure you don’t generalise too much. Address the exact skills you have with the most commonly associated keywords that fit the position. For example, if you are looking to work in an environmental engineering role, don’t just include “engineer and “engineering”, but also “environmental engineering” and even specific strains of this such as “water engineer” and “sustainable engineering”.


Don’t keyword “stuff”

While it is definitely recommended to use keywords as part of your SEO strategy, it is also important not to resort to a tactic referred to as “keyword stuffing”. When SEO algorithms first began, this was a method used by many companies that involved simply filling web pages with lists and lists of keywords to improve rankings in search engines. Do this in your resume and it is unlikely to do you any favours.

What you can do is utilise the Skills, Education, Qualifications, Summary and Experience sections of your job seeker profiles, where you can list your skills in dot points. SEEK’s data shows  that “many employers are looking for skills such as ‘content’, ‘java’ and ‘payroll’”, so no matter what kind of job you’re hoping to get, make sure you share, in detail, what you’re capable of in these sections.


Target the job title

One keyword you should definitely include within your resume is the job title itself. This is because this is likely one of the top keywords that will get you noticed in a database.

When including the job title, do not be tempted to use slang or obscure versions of the job title that you may have been given by a former employer, such as “social media ninja” or “project management guru”. Not only do these sound gimmicky, but they’re also unlikely to be keywords a database will identify.

Specific job titles are among the most searched keywords on LinkedIn, and recruiters aren’t just aren’t just searching “Tech Industry Leader.” They’re looking for specifics, such as a ‘Senior Software Engineer’, ‘UX Design Associate,’ or ‘Mobile Application Developer’. Similarly, some of the most searched job titles on SEEK include ‘developer’, ‘business analyst’ and ‘accountant’ – this tells us that clear and concise titles are key.

If you had a unique job title in a previous role, consider adding the generic version in brackets. For example, Director of First Impressions (Receptionist).


Customise your resume

It’s incredibly important to refrain from email-blasting out a cookie-cutter application to everyone currently hiring. Instead, have a planned approach that targets your resume to a specific job offer and employer. To be in with a chance of getting noticed, you need to customise your resume to the employer’s needs as expressed in the ad, as well as they keywords that could get you noticed for future opportunities in similar roles.

Futhermore, if you do appear in a database search but your resume appears not to be tailored for the specific job posting, 36% of Recruitment Consultants and Hiring Managers will be unlikely to proceed further with your job application.


Stress results

Results receive attention! From both a crawling bot and human eyes! Make sure to include your accomplishments within your prior roles, noting the positive outcome and how it was achieved. When doing this, aim to use “active verbs”, rather than passive language and include words such as “created”, “developed”, “saved” and increased”.

According to SEEK, you should prioritise these words over those such as “energetic” and “optimistic”, as an organisation is more likely to search for a specialist skill they desire as opposed to searching for candidates who have described themselves as these things. It may seem like a small change, but even this shift in wording will help your prior achievements stand out from other candidates, particularly if those words are ones being searched within a database.


Optimise the readability of your resume

It’s important to understand that the way you format your resume can also impact your searchability in a candidate database. When reviewing a resume, a database will often convert the files that can be searched, filtered, or transcribed into a uniform digital applicant profile. Unfortunately, this usually means it cannot identify text boxes, tables, columns, or graphics, and a large blank space may be left in its place - which is not ideal if it conveyed something important that could help you get the job.

Instead, you want to remove these elements from your resume, making it as streamlined as possible and therefore easy for a database, and even a human eye, to navigate.


If you are looking for more assistance in writing an effective resume, download our resume templates or view our cover letter guide that have been created by our professional consultants to get you noticed.  


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