What is a Keyword?


Job and key concept

Job and key concept

From  Dictionary.com



  1. A word that serves as a key, as to the meaning of another word, a sentence, passage, or the like.
  2. A word used to encipher or decipher a cryptogram, as a pattern for a transposition procedure or the basis for a complex substitution.
  3. Also called catchwordLibrary Science. A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of a document or other item being indexed, used as the index entry.
  4. Digital Technology. a word used to classify or organize digital content, or to facilitate an online search for information: Search the database for the keyword “Ireland.”.


The internet, search engines and Applicant Tracking Systems (where the resumes and applications go when you apply for a job online) all use keywords to sort all that data. 


Your keywords are the words in your online profiles, your resume, your background and future that serve as a key to the meaning of the work you have done and will do.  They are also the words that will help a hiring manager, or recruiter, decipher what you can actually do and how you would fit into the company.  AND, if they are the correct ones, they are the words that the computer will use to allow you to pass through the “Black Hole” of the ATS.


Remember that lingo in one company may not match the lingo in another so remember to look for synonyms.  If you have a cross-industry job (accounting, HR, etc.) remember that different industries may also have different lingo.


You will use “your” keywords whenever you look for a new job or enroll in a new online networking group.  The people in your “tribe” (as Seth Grodin says) will use the same keywords.  People who don’t will not understand you as well. 


Your keywords will describe your skills, expertise, and tasks.  You will use them to describe the software and equipment you use.  If you are an expert in one kind of equipment, you will be a better fit at companies that use that equipment than you would be at companies that use the competitor’s equipment but a better fit than someone who doesn’t know how to use either. 


You should have your keywords somewhere on your computer or in a notebook so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time.  You will need to add to it, reorder the list (by what you want to do next or never again), take some things off that you haven’t done for so long that they are outdated.  But you won’t have to try to think it up fresh every time. 


You will use these words over and over in Summaries of what you do, in “dragon-slaying stories” of your accomplishments, in conversations with networking partners, in interviews.  These are “your” words.  The people who share them with you are “your tribe”.  And many will become your friends – the people who “get” you. 




  1. […] decide what you want people to know about you, professionally.  Use your keywords and dragon-slaying stories to show how you are prepared for your next job.  Add only a few “non-work” topics to make you […]

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