Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume?

October 18th, 2007 (77,828 views) by Pinny Cohen

Resume-KeywordsUsually when I discuss optimizing keywords I am referring to targeting search engines like Google, but what about the “niche” search engines that are mushrooming up all over? Those search engines are often used not just by consumers, but also by job recruiters (among others).

I’ll take for example a site like or Craigslist, both sites with tons of resumes posted on there. How do you get your resume seen by as many recruiters as possible?

The answer is of course, to include information that they are looking for. Just like there are ways of getting data on popular search words on Google, we can look at the most popular keyword searches by recruiters on job sites, and learn from that. Marc Cenedella, of, a recruiting site that specializes in jobs paying $100,000 or more, wondered the same thing and developed a list of the 100 most-searched for terms by recruiters on the site.

The list is useful for three reasons:

First, it tells us what the “preferable” term for what we do is. Most jobs or actions in the business world have more than one term, and sometimes that causes confusion over who has what experience. For example, a digital planner and a media planner could be doing the exact same work, but there will likely be one searched for more often. If you find out which term is better searched, you can make those changes on your bio or resume and ensure that you are located more easily.

Second, the list tells us what positions are in demand in the work force currently. We can use this information to navigate our career in a direction that is lacking manpower and therefore get more competitive offers.

Third, if and when more data is offered from sites like, we can use this information to trend certain keywords and see if they are becoming more or less popular, or if there are more or less openings than there were at a previous point in time.

The top 10 keywords recruiters search for on job sites:

1 Sales
2 controller
3 cpa
5 project manager
6 cfo
7 tax
8 Director
9 recruiter
10 Human resources

One notable thing I noticed from the top ten is that four out of them were related to finance (cpa, cfo, tax, controller), another two/three for running things (project manager, director and controller is also partially in this category) and two for getting more manpower to find the previous two (recruiter, human resources).

With increasing legislation surrounding taxes and finances of companies as well as more partnerships developing between companies (merger mania), it makes sense that everyone is scrambling to make sure his finance/tax staff is large enough to handle it.

And, with more products/services coming out to market than ever before, these companies need a lot of middle managers to make sure the final product is useful and delivered on time.

Another reason for the increased need for HR could be the new generation of workers’ personalities. A recent poll by Entrepreneur Magazine showed the highest percentage (71%) ever of young people interested in running their own businesses and entrepreneurship, and this undoubtedly has made the recruiting field work harder to find the “best and the brightest” to work for them.

As job hopping becomes more and more frequent (Americans outpace every other nation in this statistic, with one source saying that the average American will go through 10 jobs between the ages of 18 and 38), making smooth transitions from job to job has never been more important. Hopefully you can use this information to better position yourself in the job market the next time you switch.

If you have any other tips related to optimizing your resume, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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27 Responses to “Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume?”

  1. Daily Roundup: Mars and Venus Edition ∞ Get Rich Slowly Says:

    [...] Pinny Cohen wonders: Are you keyword-optimizing your resume? [...]

  2. Pimp and optimize your LinkedIn profile Says:

    [...] Pinny Cohen talks about how to keyword optimize your resume. He brings up some interesting points. I’ll take for example a site like or Craigslist, both sites with tons of resumes posted on there. How do you get your resume seen by as many recruiters as possible? [...]

  3. Celine Says:

    I’ve posted a link to your article at Pimp Your Work. I’ve also made the entry specific for LinkedIn profile optimization. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Douglas Karr Says:

    Great post. I’m really quite surprised that no one has developed custom RSS tags for resumes that search engines could index and search on yet. If I had a million dollars…

  5. links for 2007-10-24 | The Marketing Technology Blog Says:

    [...] Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume? This is a really interesting look at creating an online resume and ensuring that it’s search engine ready. Search is quickly becoming the dominant tool for finding jobs and employees. (tags: resume keyword career job search) [...]

  6. links for 2007-10-25 Says:

    [...] Life of an Internet Entrepreneur » Blog Archive » Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume? (tags: resume career job optimizing keyword search) [...]

  7. Drew McLellan Says:

    Fascinating list. Good information for those of us searching for employees too. No doubt the list works in reverse!


  8. pinnycohen Says:

    Thanks Drew!

    Glad you found it informative, and great idea about the employers using this list as well.

  9. Organize IT Recap 27th Oct 2007 » Advice on organized and productive living through lifehacks and GTD » Organize IT Says:

    [...] Having been blogging extensively for over a year now, I understand the importance of having keywords in articles. However I never thought to apply the same principle to my resume. [...]

  10. Keyword Optimize Your Resume « Web Worker Daily Says:

    [...] Use “preferable” terms. This one comes from Pinny Cohen. Recruiters and HR people are bound to search on the most obvious or common terms when seeking out candidates to forward to a hiring manager. So how do you figure out what terms people might be looking for? Cohen mentions a page updated weekly by job site, which lists the 100 top recruiter search words. Using these instead of more creative phrasing will help those recruiters find you. [...]

  11. tinyhands Says:

    You suggested 3 of the top 10, but I say that five are finance/accounting related (2, 3, 4, 6, 7).

  12. pinnycohen Says:


    You are right in many ways, my apologies. I guess I was focusing more on the managerial aspects of a controller, although your point is very valid. Thank you for your correction!

  13. Rob Neild Says:

    In reply to Douglas Karr “I’m really quite surprised that no one has developed custom RSS tags for resumes that search engines could index and search on yet.”. Check out

  14. » Blog Archive » Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume? Says:

    [...] (Click here for the rest of the story) Related PostsHow to find Passive Candidates from Active Candidate BoardsFREE BLOG CLASS: Advanced Keyword Strategies for Recruiters (Part 3)The Searchengine Taste TestHow to find Python programmers in 30 seconds or lessGetting SASsy: How to source SAS programmersBookmark to: [...]

  15. Quick Links: Keyword Optimizing Your Resume Says:

    [...] Pinny Cohen over at Life of an Internet Entrepreneur has an absolutely fantastic post, Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume? [...]

  16. Job Search Engine Optimize Your Resume [Job Search] at SoftSaurus Says:

    [...] recruiter searches more often. See more about how you can have a say in what Google says about you. Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume? [Life of an Internet Entrepreneur via Dumb Little [...]

  17. Says:

    also, the number of times a particular keyword appears also matters.


  18. Choose A Recession-Proof Career » Life of an Internet Entrepreneur Says:

    [...] time I posted about jobs, I mentioned the value of search optimizing your resume, and gave you an easy way to discover the most recruiter-searched resume keyword terms. I also [...]

  19. Resume samples Says:

    Great list. It must have helped other employees like me. Thanks

  20. Anthony Johnston Says:

    @Rob as I’m sure you know…
    hResume will allow you CV/Resume to be portable. HR systems will be able to accurately assess your fit to a particular role.
    I think there are few systems that do this at the mo, but they will pick it up as the word spreads.

  21. abs Says:

    Nice article.


  22. resume writing company Says:

    Just grabbed the feed… thanks for posting this.

  23. Rob Says:

    Smart idea.

  24. Are You Keyword Optimizing Your Resume? » Life of an Internet Entrepreneur « Good to Know Says:

    [...] via [...]

  25. Justin Mountford Says:

    I’m really surprised that “Project Management” isn’t up there…. Most of those industries require PM’s…..


    At age 57, this is the most informative information I’ve came across regarding how to utilize keyword optimization. Thanks

  27. Age Discrimination: Overcoming the Hiring Bias » Life of an Internet Entrepreneur Says:

    [...] have previously covered how to keyword optimize your resume on this blog, and keyword optimization is a topic that has really confounded many older people I [...]

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