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An Often Overlooked Keyword Tip for a Better Online Job Search | Undergrad Success
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An Often Overlooked Keyword Tip for a Better Online Job Search

An Often Overlooked Keyword Tip for a Better Online Job Search
Joshua Waldman

The Death of the Verb

You and I have both heard the typical line from career counselors, “use power verbs in your résumé .” Right? They’ve even given us lists and lists of verbs to begin sentences:

  • Managed team of 10 engineers in highly competitive RFP process
  • Resolved difficult customer service issue for high stakes sale
  • Safeguarded company position through advanced marketing strategy

The problem with all of these verbs is that online, verbs are not as powerful as  nouns.

Thanks to search engines, and by extension, résumé-crawling software that HR departments use to pre-filter candidates, using the right nouns can either get you a job or keep you in the unemployment line.

The New Rules of Résumé Language

I’m not suggesting that you pack in as many nouns related to your field as possible. Keep it real, and just change the focus from verbs to nouns.

Careful. If you take this too far, your online résumé might look like this:

Manager, team player and results-oriented marketing professional with 10 years experience managing, leading teams and running advertising for large companies that have managers and teams….

Make sure you write for people, but make sure to use the right combination of nouns. Too many nouns will get you red-flagged and discarded. Sentences that don’t make sense are also thrown out.

Where Do I Find My Nouns?

Because you are targeting specific jobs with specific companies, no one can give you a list. There are many tools to help you, but the best one comes directly from the company you are targeting!

Here are the steps I tell clients to grow their noun list:

  1. Collect 5-10 job postings from the company and/or position you are looking for (hmmm I guess Job Boards are good for one thing!)
  2. Highlight the nouns that seem to be recurring over and over again
  3. Jot down the nouns with the highest occurrences; make a list of 10.

Now you know what words to weave into your résumé for your target company.


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Joshua Waldman

Joshua Waldman is an authority on leveraging social media to find employment. He is the author of Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies, and his writing has appeared in Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable and the International Business Times. Joshua’s career blog, CareerEnlightenment, won the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Career Blog 2013. When he’s not writing, Joshua presents keynotes, trainings and breakout sessions around the world for students, career advisors, consortiums and professional organizations. For more information, visit CareerEnlightenment.com

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