You’re probably aware that, when you’re job-hunting, you need to have a diverse, personal brand-reinforcing online presence, to attract recruiters and employers, when they’re searching for and assessing good-fit candidates.
Any content about you that you want them to find needs to be easy for them to find.
That means that the content must be easily accessible to them, when they search relevant key words and phrases on Google, Bing, LinkedIn, etc.
And the content needs to land towards the top of search results for those keywords, to be sure they’ll see it.
How does SEO work?
Search engines strive to deliver the most relevant, helpful search results, when you enter words and phrases in a browser.
One of the many factors they use to prioritize search results is on-topic content with substance, that includes the words and phrases being searched (that is, relevant keywords).
When people look online to find people to meet their needs, they search certain words and see what comes up.
You know this, if you’ve ever searched online for a professional to help you with home repairs, or other services, or if you’re researching various topics.
You search for, say, “heating contractor, city, state” and begin the process of assessment and selection, based on what you find.
It works pretty much the same way in job search.
Recruiters and hiring decision makers search on keywords relevant to the kinds of candidates they’re seeking, such as “Information Technology Executive, Enterprise Business Systems”.
Working from this understanding, you need to determine which are the right keywords for your particular job search, and place those keywords in the online content you create, in the right places.
This doesn’t mean that you should pack your content with long strings of your relevant keywords, without surrounding them with pertinent, readable content. Search engines frown on this practice and may penalize web pages that go overboard with keyword density.
Where do you find the right keywords for you?
Step one in job search is targeting. You need to know which companies and organizations you’re going to pursue, so you can build your personal brand and job search marketing content (resume, biography, LinkedIn profile, Google+ profile, etc.) around showcasing your unique value to them.
As you research each of your target companies, you’ll identify the challenges facing them right now, that you’re uniquely qualified to help them overcome.
You’ll also pay attention to the relevant keywords and phrases (usually representing areas of expertise) that consistently come up.
Those are the best relevant keywords for your job search, if they apply to you and your promise of value to your target employers.
Three things to keep in mind.
1. Placement of keywords matters.
Keep in mind that search engines typically pay more attention to the content that sits towards the top of any web page. That’s why, in your LinkedIn profile, your professional headline is the most important SEO spot.
So be sure to position your most important keywords “above the fold” in the online content you create.
2. Spelling matters.
Aside from the glaring fact that typos, misspellings, and poor grammar reflect badly on your communication skills, there’s another, equally important reason to carefully proofread before posting content.
If, for instance, you call yourself a “Chief Financal Officer” (instead of “Financial”) or “Project Manger” (instead of “Manager”), in your content, search engines may not recognize the misspelled word and may not include your content in search results.
3. Applicant Tracking Systems work a little differently.
If you’re creating a resume document to post on job boards and make it through an ATS – a practice I don’t recommend for senior-level and c-suite job-seekers – you need to include the right keywords everywhere in the document, even at the bottom. The technology rewards keyword density across the entire document, not just keywords found towards the top.
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