What Are Job Keywords? (Importance, Where to Include and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

To advertise an open position, hiring managers usually release job descriptions containing requirements for the role. These job descriptions include important keywords which candidates can leverage to have a better application. Understanding the meaning and purposes of job keywords can aid your job application process. In this article, we discuss what keywords are, identify their importance, highlight where to include them on your resume, cover letter and interview and provide answers to popular FAQs about job searches with keywords.

What are job keywords?

Job keywords are words or phrases that describe the qualifications, skills and attributes a hiring manager expects in a candidate. They may include terms relating to its corporate culture, work environment, work options, pay range or job location. Hiring managers usually include them in their job descriptions to describe the ideal candidate for the role. They also serve as a guide to help hiring managers judge candidates. As a result, most companies program their applicant tracking systems with these keywords, so the software can screen out resumes that don't include them.

Importance of keywords

Here are some of the reasons keywords are important:

Provide information about the company

Beyond describing the ideal candidate, hiring managers also use keywords to describe aspects of the company. For example, the job description may include details about the company's work environment or corporate culture. The hiring manager can include details on the work options available at the company, their location and the employment benefits they offer their employees. Thus, job descriptions are a reliable source for candidates to obtain information about a company.

Attracts the right talent

By releasing a job description to the public, the hiring manager announces the company's ideal candidates. Keywords can help the hiring manager highlight the specific skills and qualifications the role requires. As a result, candidates can determine whether they fit into the company's qualifications through the job description. The keywords in a job description also determine how it appears in searches. Hiring managers can ensure that the right candidates are more likely to find their job ad when searching for a role by being deliberate about their keywords.

Serves as criteria for judging candidates

The job description is a list of the hiring manager's expectations of the ideal candidate. Hiring managers often use it as a guide when reviewing candidates. They usually check resumes against essential keywords to see if the candidate is suitable. Also, larger organisations program these keywords into applicant tracking systems, which screen out unsuitable applications. To achieve the best results, it's important hiring managers are deliberate about writing the job description, as it's relevant throughout the recruitment process. To ensure they're on the right track, hiring managers can speak to the relevant department heads to understand the role's requirements.

Related: How Companies Use Applicant Tracking Systems (WIth Tips to Pass Through Them)

Helps candidates impress the hiring manager

Keywords tell candidates what qualifications the hiring manager expects in an excellent candidate. By including keywords in various parts of their application, candidates can highlight their most relevant skills. This increases their chances of success, as they're more likely to impress the hiring manager. Including keywords in your application is also a sign of meticulousness and excellent research skills. These are qualities that hiring managers generally appreciate in employees, so demonstrating them can improve your chances of success.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: Standing Out to Hiring Managers During COVID-19

Helps candidates decide whether to apply

Beyond providing information on what qualifications the hiring manager expects, the job description also details the company. By reviewing the job description, candidates can understand various important details about the company. For example, a candidate can determine available work options at the company, its corporate culture and work environment. This can help candidates decide if a company is where they want to work and how long they intend to work there.

Where to include job keywords on your resume

Here's a guide on where you can include keywords on your resume:

Work experience section

The work experience section is one of the most important parts of a resume, as it provides details about your technical skills and knowledge. Hiring managers usually spend more time in this section. To make your keywords visible, including them in your work experience section is a great idea. You can include keywords when discussing the details of your duties under previous employers to highlight specific skills or knowledge you used. Ensure you quantify your achievements to make this section more impressive.

Professional summary

Your professional summary is one of the first parts of your resume. Its purpose is to highlight your most impressive qualification to the hiring manager, making it an ideal location to include these keywords. You can include keywords describing relevant skills, academic qualifications or knowledge.


The skills section of your resume highlights any relevant technical and soft skills you have which relate to the role. This makes it a great section to include your keywords. The job description usually includes keywords relating to essential skills for the role, which you can replicate in your skills section. If possible, you can provide additional details showing how you utilised those skills at your previous workplaces.


If you're applying for a professional role, the hiring manager may include keywords relating to educational requirements. This may relate to specific courses or degree classification. In such instances, it helps to include keywords in your job description. You can also include keywords to highlight any relevant skills you developed through extracurricular activities at school.

Resume header

The resume header is the first part of your resume, which contains your contact details. You may include keywords relating to a location on your resume to improve your chances of success. Similarly, you can include an online portfolio or a link to your website if the hiring manager requests one.

Related: How to Write a Resume Headline (With Steps and Examples)

Including keywords in your cover letter

A cover letter is a brief document which candidates usually submit with a resume. The purpose of a cover letter is to provide more details on the qualifications on your resume. It also provides information about why you want to work for the company and what you expect from a potential employer. Including keywords in your cover letter is an effective way to impress the hiring manager. You can use your keywords to highlight relevant skills from your resume while providing practical examples of when you used them.

Using keywords in an interview

You can also use keywords during your interview, though they may be less obvious than your resume or cover letter. Before your interview, take time to review the job description and understand the primary qualifications the manager expects. That way, you can incorporate these skills or knowledge into your answer if they're relevant to the question. For example, if the interviewer asks you about your strengths and weaknesses, that's a great opportunity to include keywords describing your skills. Ensure you speak clearly so that the hiring manager can note and remember your mentioned skills.

Including keywords on your professional profile

You can also include keywords in your professional profiles as a way of building your network on social media. Relevant areas to include keywords are your bio, about me section and skills section. You can also include relevant keywords in your posts to help you get more engagements from professionals in the same industry.

FAQs about using keywords to search for a job

Here are some frequently asked questions about searching for jobs with keywords that can aid you:

What are examples of keywords I can use to search for a job?

The appropriate keywords vary according to what you're looking for in a role. To determine the appropriate keywords, first, write down your expectations. Then, using these expectations, you can formulate keywords to use in your search. For example, if you're looking for a role with a high salary, you can include high-paying. Similarly, if you want to work remotely, you can include remote as one of your keywords. Examples of areas you can use to formulate keywords include:

  • name of employer

  • job title

  • location

  • pay range

  • level of experience

  • work options

  • skills

  • education

Related: How to Search for Remote Work on Indeed

What if I don't get any good results?

If you don't get good results after using your keyword, that may be a sign that they're too limited. Try doing some more research on the role you want to understand the type of jobs available. That may help you develop more appropriate keywords. It's also possible the kind of job you're looking for isn't available in your location.

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