Best Keywords to Use in Your Job Search

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At any given moment, there are tons of jobs posted online. That's a good thing, but it can be time-consuming to sort through all these listings to find appropriate jobs for your experience and your needs. 

To find jobs that match your criteria quickly and efficiently, you'll first need a job search engine, such as Indeed.com or Monster.com. Then, you need some keywords for your job search. 

Use keywords that match your skills and interests to narrow down job listings to ones that are a good fit for your background.

Here's how keywords can help you job search efficiently, and how to take advantage of them. 

Use Keywords to Search for Jobs

First, a quick definition: A keyword, when used to job search, is a word or term that is related to the type of employment you are searching for. 

When you search for a job by keyword, all the positions that contain the word or term you entered will be listed in the posting. Using keywords helps eliminate jobs that don’t fit and allows you to search more effectively. 

Most job sites let job seekers search for job listings by keyword and location, as well as with more advanced search options. 

Examples of Keyword Searches

If you are searching for a marketing job, for example, you can search using "marketing" as a keyword, then add your location and other search criteria. You can make it even more specific. If you're looking for a marketing manager job, you can use that term ("marketing manager") as your keyword.

Or, if you’re searching for electrical engineer jobs you can use terms such as "electrical engineer" or "electrical engineering," plus your location and other search criteria like type of position or experience required.

Searching by Skill and Job Title

When you have skills that could be used in a variety of roles, search by terms that describe your skill set to find jobs that are a good match. 

For example, if you're an app developer, you can search generally using that job title as keywords. You can also search by the skills you need to get hired. This might include things like iOS, Android, databases, APIs, etc.

Types of Keywords to Use

The appropriate keywords to use depend on your field and the type of job you want. Some of the categories of keywords you may want to use to narrow your search include:

  • Field or industry: While it won't narrow the results too much, begin by putting in the field or industry you'd like to work in, such as "marketing," "publishing," or "database engineering." Once you see the results, you can add more keywords to ensure more relevant results, and a slimmer list of jobs to wade through.
  • Location: It's up to you how precise you'd like to be. You can put in a state, city, town, or even a zip code. On some job sites, you can specify a radius around a location or within a certain number of miles from a location. You'll be able to query by location using advanced search options, which are available on most job sites.
  • Desired job title: You can try putting in your desired title (e.g., marketing coordinator) but keep in mind that not all companies use the same titles. One company may call the position "marketing coordinator," while another calls the exact same role "PR associate." Try different variations to see which generates the best results. Be cautious about using job titles as a search method, and widen your search parameters if you do not get a lot of results.
  • Industry-specific skills, tools, and jargon: As well as searching by job titles, you can search by the functionality required by a job. For instance, you might search by a programming language or the skills required to do the job.
  • Company names: If you happen to have a dream company that you'd like to work for—or a giant multinational company that you know has a lot of job openings at any one time—you can search directly by the company name. Also, check the company's LinkedIn page for listings and visit the career section of the employer's website. You may be able to apply on the site and sign up for email alerts for when new jobs are posted.
  • Job type: When you are looking for a specific type of job you can narrow down search results by putting in terms like full time, part time, contract, freelance, internship, remote, etc. That will give you a list of jobs that match the type of position you're looking for.

Don't be afraid to play around and experiment with keywords. If you keep seeing a certain word or phrase in job advertisements for positions that are a good fit for you, try using the word or phrase as a keyword.

If a keyword doesn't turn up results, don't get discouraged. Simply move on and try using other keywords. 

Use Keywords to Apply for Jobs

Keywords are helpful throughout the job application process. As you've seen, they help you search more efficiently and effectively. Just as you browse through many jobs, employers receive many applications, and take advantage of keywords to help sort through them. 

Cover Letter Keywords

For instance, if you submit your cover letter to a job site, it will be searched for keywords. Therefore, you'll want to make sure to include the appropriate keywords in your cover letter. Using skill, result, and recognition keywords in your cover letter will increase your chances of getting selected for an interview.

Resume Keywords

Plus, many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen candidates for job openings. Resume keywords are the words that those hiring managers search for when going through their database of resumes. You'll want to be sure you've included these keywords in your resume to make it through the screening process.