In your job search, you might think of your CV (or, resume) simply as a document telling employers what you uniquely have to offer, in simple, no-nonsense language. You would be right, in many ways.
By giving a detailed picture of your education, employment history, and skills on your CV, you’re checking off the very items employers consider as they decide whether you’re right for the job. Your LinkedIn profile provides a similar overview of who you are, in digital form. This much is obvious.
However, you can gain additional points by using SEO principles when writing your CV and social media profiles. SEO, or “search engine optimisation,” is the umbrella term for a number of writing and webpage design techniques that help give websites more visibility (that is, higher listings) in the results for such tools as Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
If you use SEO techniques, employers will be more likely to find your CV online through search engines and services such as LinkedIn. However, even on a paper-only CV, utilising good SEO practices will help employers psychologically “tune in” to your content and core message.
Here’s some advice for enhancing your CV and LinkedIn profile, SEO-style.
Keywords are often considered the foundation of good SEO. Keywords are popular words and phrases that are highly relevant to a particular subject, and a webpage that uses them optimally will have them sprinkled throughout the text where they make the most sense. For example, a blog post about how to make the perfect cup of coffee might have the terms “coffee” (obviously), “beans,” “roast,” and “brew” woven seamlessly several times into the content.
You can take a similar approach to your CV and LinkedIn profile. If you’re a graphic designer with relevant experience, for instance, you might want to use the words “Photoshop,” “composition,” “layout,” and “creative” judiciously, depending of course on your experience.
You can start brainstorming by listing some very specific words that are relevant to your industry. Then, think of ways you can replace pronouns or expand sentences with those terms, all while maintaining a smooth, naturally-written narrative. This will make the most important facets of your work history jump out where they matter most.
Titles and subtitles
Titles and subtitles are also very important parts of solid SEO. Think for a moment about your favourite blogs, or the links you’re most likely to click on when you visit Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. More often than not, you’ll find that those blog posts and articles are enticing because of well-written, compelling headlines. Then, after you land on those pages, the content might be broken down further into helpful subtitles that encourage you to keep reading.
Titles composed in the style of headlines can work to your advantage in your CV as well. You might consider putting a statement such as “Veteran Copywriter with Expertise in Case Studies and Social Media Campaigns” or “Award-Winning Chemistry Graduate with a Passion for Tutoring in Math and Science” right at the top of the page, to deliver a concise impression of you that packs a punch. Notice how those examples also incorporate good keywords and descriptive adjectives as well. In SEO as well as in your CV, those elements can only help the right people take special notice.
Subtitles are already a part of standard CV format, but just in case you haven’t done so already, make sure that you use them, and that they delineate clear sections of your life experience. “Profile,” “Education,” “Work History,” “Skills,” and “Activities and Interests” are common examples. If you work in academia or a scientific research field, you might include additional headlines such as “Publications” or “Grants Received.” In any case, make sure your subtitles are relevant to who you are, what you’ve done, and what you want to do next in your career.
Links (or, References)
Finally, a big determinant of a webpage’s visibility in the search engines is the number of quality links pointing to that webpage. When ranking a page for search results, the search engine algorithms ask (figuratively, of course, since they’re not human) the following questions:
- What other websites are pointing to this page?
- Are those sites high-quality, substantial, and popular?
- Have those sites been around for a long time, while managing to keep a solid reputation?
As you might imagine, the answers will say a lot about the page that the referring sites are linking to.
Think about this principle, first, for your LinkedIn profile. The most successful users are endorsed by well-known, experienced professionals, and they’re often members of groups that promote networking within their specific fields. If that doesn’t describe your LinkedIn presence, take the time to reach out and make those connections. Your networks and relationships, even those that are forged only online, do say a lot about you.
Next, apply the principle to your hard-copy CV. Think to yourself, “How many quality references do I have? How well can they vouch for my skills, character, and adaptability?” Whether you decide to list their contact information on the CV or not, make sure that your references are people who know you well, are authoritative in their own right, and can give potential employers a strong assessment of your capabilities. Here again, the right “links” can make all the difference.
A proper SEO article for the internet and a great CV follow some of the same fundamentals. They use keywords when appropriate for clarity and precision, they feature titles and subtitles that are both intriguing and helpful for the reader, and they have strong links (or human references, in the case of the CV) that powerfully vouch for their quality and substance.
Use the above advice to make yourself stand out, and with persistence and luck, your targeted job search will soon result in the perfect job offer for you!
Image 1: “Seo Blocks” ©Paloma Gómez – https://flic.kr/p/6edZwi
Image 2: “LinkedIn logo” ©Esther Vargas – https://flic.kr/p/d59ToJ