Keywords for CV

Keywords are an important aspect of CV writing. They need to be included to make a positive impact. With so many other applicants all applying for the same position, it’s important to stand out. And that’s where keywords come in…

So what are keywords, and how can I apply them in my CV? 

Read on to find out more, and hopefully we can help inspire you to inject a few keywords into your own CV!

Keywords 101 – let’s begin

A keyword is essentially an important and relevant word or phrase. When it comes to writing a CV, a relevant keyword could instantly grab the employer’s attention. Having all the right skills and qualifications will only get you so far, and the addition of keywords will seal the deal.

Employers also use automated systems which check for relevant keywords.

A handful of employers used computerised Applicant Tracking Systems that allow them to use Boolean search terms, AND, NOT and OR, to identify pre-selected key words in applicant CVs. Those CVs that did not contain these keywords are automatically screened out of the process. – Keele University

Where to find keywords

Most of what you’ll ever need when searching for keywords and phrases is contained within the job advert. This is the first place you’ll need to look in order to make your CV stand out.

The job advert should contain a job description. This will supply you with a lot of keywords to use in your CV. The company may also summarise the role and what the company does, so again, look out for important keywords.

Tip – Have the job advert on one side of your screen and a Word document on the other. When you see a keyword copy it across to your Word file. You should then be left with a nice long list of keywords and sentences which you can use for your CV.

Examples of keywords

Here are some example keywords and phrases from a job advert for a Bookkeeper. We’ve highlighted the words to focus on –

  • Experience gained within Professional Practice Accountancy
  • Maintaining purchase ledger for clients
  • Trial balance for a range of clients
  • Relevant qualifications may be an advantage

Recognising and extracting keywords from the job advert is a relatively straight forward task. The tricky part is incorporating them into your CV without it being too obvious. You need to be subtle so the employer doesn’t think you’ve simply copied most of the job advert. Also, don’t try and use every single keyword you come across. Just use a few of the most important ones, especially when it comes to your ‘core skills’.

Here is another great example of how you can match the skills requested. Here is a snippet from a job advert for the role of receptionist:

Duties and requirements are:

  • Answering the telephone
  • Transferring calls to the right person or department
  • Professional and courteous phone manner
  • Diary management
  • Booking and preparation of meeting rooms
  • Must be proficient with Microsoft Word and Excel

If the above is important to the employer and is an essential requirement of the role, then you must ensure they are stated on your CV. However, keywords are again important here. You need to try and closely match the skills requested above.

Check back over your CV (if already written) and tweak any similar skills to ensure they match the words used by the employer. Don’t make things harder for the employer by using your own terminology.

If the job advert lists that you need to be CIPD qualified, make sure you use the same acronym in your CV, as well as listing the fuller version of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. The same applies for all qualifications, standards and technical skills that are required for the job. Try to include the acronym and the full name. –