Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort through CVs and streamline their hiring process. These systems scan CVs for keywords that are inputted into for specific hiring positions. Then, CVs are scored on a scale of 0 to 100 for relevance. Only the CVs with the highest scores are passed on to recruiters.

The main takeaway from this information is that the right choice of keywords will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether you advance in the job searching process.

Here are a few tips on how you can tweak your CV so that it reaches the hiring manager.

What is a keyword? 

A keyword is a specific word or phrases used to find the ideal candidate for a position. Each industry and profession has their own set. Just as you want the most relevant search results returned when you type a query into Google, the hiring manager doesn’t want to sift through hundreds or thousands of CVs to find the handful of people he or she really wants to talk to.

If you a sales manager seeking a position as a sales and marketing director, you want to find keywords that apply to the position you want. It would be expected that phrases such as “implements strategic marketing plans”, and “analyzes and controls expenditures” cover your CV.

Just remember, keywords can be nouns, adjectives or short phrases, as well as describe unique skills, abilities or experiences. Be creative, but be smart and thoroughly understand the profession you are applying for.

Why do you need to have keywords?

Many companies use keyword-searchable databases that quickly scan CVs for words related to the job positions for which they are looking for. Actually almost 80% of companies, both big and small, are using these databases!

How do you find these keywords?

There are multiple places where you can find keywords needed for your CV to stand out. Reviewing job postings with your desired title or even searching the Dictionary of Occupational Titles are useful. You should also sift through a variety of CV-building sites that offer strong, key phrases.and pick the ones most appropriate for you.

Where should keywords be located?

Your keywords should be in bold and there should be approximately 25 keywords throughout your CV. By having these keywords in the top third of your CV, you significantly elevate your chances of attracting employers’ interest in your candidacy.

Again, if you want to know which ones are important for your requested position, or even positions of the past, look-up job postings and CVs of others that have had the same titles as you.