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The importance of using keywords in your CV

In today’s digital world, employment has, for the most part, moved online. Employers and recruiters have access to vast numbers of CVs for potential candidates from huge online recruitment databases, online job sites and Linked In. According to, “the average CV is only looked at for 10 seconds.” That’s because “typically a Recruitment Consultant might view several hundred CVs in a single day.”

This not only means that your first impression is crucial, but also means that your CV may not be being seen at all.

But don’t panic – there is a simple way to ensure that your CV makes its way into the hands of the right people. It’s all about keywords.

To help filter through all those applications, your CV id now likely to be found by way of a keyword search. Therefore, your CV needs to contain keywords in order for search engines to find you, thereby increasing the likelihood of a human being ever seeing your carefully constructed application.

Here at Leicester College we have rounded up the ways in which you can figure out which keywords are relevant to you, and how to use them:

  1. Make sure you use the right job title – It sounds so obvious but huge amounts of CVs are overlooked because they don’t mention the desired job title once. An article on points out that 35% of people provide incorrect details, including their previous job titles, that may be relevant to the job they are applying for. Even if you don’t have experience in that particular job role, make sure you reference it somewhere on your CV to make sure it will come up when searched for. For example, you can express your interest in that particular type of role, if you follow this up with evidence to prove you’ve got the necessary experience and skills from your previous roles.
  1. Pay attention to the keywords the recruiter uses – it’s essential that your CV mirrors the language used in the job description. Our suggestion is to highlight any keywords and phrases and make sure you incorporate them into your CV. The more you do this, the more likely you are to stand out and get to interview stage. It may sound like a laborious process, but often tailoring your CV for each job application is much more effective than sending out hundreds of generic CVs that may not be picked up in searches.
  1. Become familiar with industry phrasing and buzzwords – Each industry has their own unique phrasing that may not necessarily be mentioned in the job description, but will be extremely relevant to the role. For example, suggests that a marketing candidate might mention SEO, direct marketing, B2B or social media in their CV to appear highly in searches. Whether it relates to qualifications or specialist training, specialist language or technical skills, sectors of markets you have worked in, specific systems, memberships or awards, it’s worth including these industry buzzwords to ensure you get noticed.
  1. Avoid clichés – Once you’ve grabbed the attention of the search engine, you need to grab the attention of the person reading your CV. Remember that the recruiter or your potential employer could have seen thousands of CVs, and using clichéd keywords and phrases are best avoided if you want to stand out. Recruitment company Michael Page says that some of the most common CV clichés to avoid include ‘team player,’ ‘motivated,’ ‘detail-orientated,’ ‘dynamic,’ ‘communication or people skills’ and ‘results-driven.’ Be as creative as you can with your language – as long as you’ve got your essential keywords in there, feel free to go wild with the rest (but not too wild).

Need more job application advice? Try reading these next:

Dreaded Interview Questions: Where do you see yourself in three years?

The importance of following up on a job application


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