Photo Credit: christophercarfi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: christophercarfi via Compfight cc

Most job seekers know that it’s important to have the right keywords in your resume and LinkedIn profile, so you will make it past the computerized and human screeners, and be found by recruiters.

When you apply for a specific job, you can easily identify the relevant keywords in the job posting.  The keywords will be those in the opening paragraph that describes the job, and in the content of the description that lists the responsibilities and qualifications.  Remember that keywords are not simply single words – they are phrases.  So look for phrases that seem distinctive in the job posting.  Project managers, for example, need to have words and phrases like “project management,” “organized” and “analytical.”  Specific jobs may have unique turns of phrase like “experience herding cats highly desirable.”  You’ll want to include the phrase “herding cats” in your cover letter and possibly in your resume.

How can you find generalized keywords when you are building your resume for networking purposes and as the foundation for your LinkedIn profile?

Build a word cloud out of several job descriptions.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Indeed.com (an aggregator of job postings from around the web) and search for jobs using skills you most want to use.
  2. Find 4 to 6 jobs you are really interested in and open the posting.
  3. Copy and paste the complete job descriptions of all of them into a single Word document.
  4. Then go to TagCrowd.com, a tool for visualizing word frequency (aka generating a word cloud).
  5. Enter in the text from the Word document into the text box (it looks small but it can handle a lot of text).
  6. Click Visualize.
  7. Make note of the most prominent words (largest and darkest font).

Those are the most commonly used words.  And these are the words to use in your resume and LinkedIn profile.  When applying to specific jobs, I’d change some of the keywords based on specific jobs, to use the language employed by the company.  For LinkedIn, these are great keywords to use in the Summary, Skills, and Interests sections, and in your headline.

For example, I did a search recently for “marketing, manager, strategy.”  A number of positions are relevant and interesting to my client.  I copied and pasted the content of five job descriptions into a Word document.  Then I opened the site Tagcrowd.com.  Once opened, I copied and pasted the entire Word document into the text box.  Then I clicked “Visualize” to generate the word cloud.

In my example, the most common word was marketing, followed by communication, management, planning, projects, team, sales, strategies, and events.  These are words I would include in a resume for someone who wanted to use her strategic marketing, project management, and sales lead generation skills.

Because Tagcrowd only lists words, not phrases, you have to determine what set of words go together.  In my example, the words “management” and “projects” were both prominent.  Reading back through the job descriptions, I can see that “project management” is a common phrase.  So I can use that as a keyword along with the words “management” and “projects.”

See how this tool works for you to identify keywords in your target industry, occupation, and job titles.