How to Use Keywords in Your CV to Land a Job Interview – The Secret Nobody Told You

How to Use Keywords in Your CV to Land a Job Interview

We have discussed earlier on key points to note while drafting your CV. We are now going to look at how to use keywords to make a perfect CV that would draw the attention of an employer and land you a Job Interview.


What is a Keyword?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

A keyword is defined as a word that is a key, such as: A significant word from a title or document used especially as an index to content or a word exemplifying the meaning or value of a letter or symbol.

A keyword is also defined as a word or concept of great significance. A word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document. – Oxford.

What is a CV / Resume Keyword?

From the above definition, we can definitely conclude that CV or Resume Keywords are words or short phrases that relate to particular requirements for a job. They are the skills, abilities, credentials, and qualities that a hiring manager looks for in a candidate.


Now lets look at a quick practical example of how keywords work. Ever searched for a term on Google? the word you put into the search bar is a keyword. Now imagine the search results as different CVs. What do you do when the results page loads? You take a quick glance and click on the result with the most relevant title to the keyword you searched for right?

Keywords are very important in helping you get your CV noticed by employers. By using keywords in your CV and cover letter, you’ll Boost your chances of landing a job interview. But more often than not, people fail to do this, mostly because they have no idea about this secret. In-fact most people i have asked if they use keywords in their CV said no. Most had no idea what it is and how its implemented.


Even for employers who use an applicant tracking system (ATS), which is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment and hiring needs, Keywords are more than important. Most recruiters get 100+ CVs per day for all the published positions on Job boards. It is difficult for them to go through each CV. So they use this software to find the best out of all the CVs submitted by applicants. The ATS software has filters to find the right keywords and it filters the CV to find the best matches. After that, they can find their best candidates from the filtered CVs.


You might also like: Key Points to Note while Drafting your CV that will Boost your Chances

How to Find the Right Keywords to Use in Your CV / Resume

The Job listing should match your background or experience. Once you find the jobs which matches your background and experience, then the next step is to go ahead and optimize your CV using the right keywords for the job. You will usually find the keywords or phrases throughout the job listing and in the “qualifications” and “requirements” sections. The keywords from these sections are what you will incorporate into your CV.


In cases where there are no much details about the Job listing, your Keywords should be words that at a glance, the recruiter already knows that you are a good fit for the job. Eg: A customer service representative should include in his/her skills: Customer service, Customer tracking system, Computer skills, Order entry experience.


Additionally, read about the company you are applying for, check their about page on the company website or their LinkedIn profile, pick specific keywords about the company and incorporate into your CV to show you are a perfect fit for the company. For example, if the company identifies itself as “creative,” you could use “creative” and “creativity” in your CV.

How to use Keywords in your CV /Resume

  • Include keywords that are as closely related to the specific job as possible.
  • The company’s value proposition is important: This is what sets it apart from their competition. Make sure your CV keywords and your experience are formatted in a way to reflect the company’s brand.
  • Make sure you have touched on most, if not all, of the keywords that are relevant to each position. That being said, do not use a skill keyword if you don’t have that skill.
  • Include a mix of different types of keywords and related keywords for the Job you are applying for. You can check similar job listings and use the keywords from them that are closely related to the job you are applying for.
In order for an employer or a scanning program to find your keywords, use keywords throughout your CV / resume. Incorporate these words into your summary statement, past work experiences, the skills section of your resume, and any other part of your resume that seems appropriate.  In all, do make sure that the keywords match the job you are applying for.


Also When applying, pay attention to how the job posting is worded. There are phrases like “required”, “recommend”, “desired” “Preferred”. Make sure you have all the “required”. Missing those might disqualify you up.

Use Keywords in Your Cover Letter Too

Lastly, also Include keywords in the body of your cover letter, making sure that they match the most important keywords and skills mentioned in the job are contained in your cover letter. Some employers do ask for cover letters. Whenever they do, it is important to use the main keywords in the cover letter. The first main keyword you should use is the one found in the Job title, which is the most specific one. Then use other important keywords found in the Job listing in your cover letter. However do not overuse keywords in your cover letter. Just use the few important ones.



In conclusion, remember that you shouldn’t stuff your whole CV with keywords, that could make your CV look The key is to having a very well formatted resume, with experience pertaining to the job you are applying for.

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