Keywords are vital for your CV

Without keywords your CV simply wouldn’t be found.

CV Keywords Image

CV writing tips

Most searches of CVs use Keywords.

Let me explain…….

Recruitment Agents will generally have a database in which to store your CV in.

Over the years an Agency will potentially accumulate thousands of CVs.

Imagine all these CVs in a big digital pot (or even an actual pot if you prefer, yes, imagine 10,000 CVs in a big pot and yours is in it)

The keywords are the hook in which your CV will be retrieved, to build the shortlist of potential candidates for the role the agent is searching on.

This is a system called Boolean Searching that will depend on the words YOU’VE used on YOUR CV.

How CVs Are Searched (Sometimes) 

If searching for say, a Design Engineer, that had used a CAD system called Solid Edge to Design Rolling Stock, the search string would be “Design Engineer” AND “Solid Edge” AND Rail OR “Rolling Stock”.

This would give a list of Design Engineers that had THOSE WORDS on their CV.

If you were a Design Engineer working in this sector, and your CV DIDN’T have these words on, YOU WOULD NOT BE RETURNED IN THOSE SEARCH RESULTS.

This is the importance of keywords. If you’d chosen to describe your self as the Chief Designer, or Head of Technical Drawing, or Mechanical Designer, using “the latest 3D CAD” to design a new Train YOU WOULD NOT BE RETURNED IN THOSE SEARCH RESULTS.

I’ve seen good candidates lose out on great opportunities because they didn’t understand this (this doesn’t affect us as much at Clemtech and I’ll tell you why in another Blog post).

This applies across the board regardless of the job you do.

To improve your chances of being found you should use common terms related to your area of expertise or chosen profession.

My Advice

So my advice is to use a variety of phrases to describe the same thing.

In the example above use variations of Mechanical Designer, Design Engineer, Mechanical Design Engineer, and if you’ve used CAD systems, list them all.

More keywords = more chances of getting found.

Thoughts, comments, further advice?……welcomed by completing the form below.

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25 thoughts on “Keywords are vital for your CV

  1. J Youds

    Hi Sean,

    Having noticed that my CV was not getting any bites I read you blog and noticed that it could defiantly be improved upon. I have now updated my CV ensuring that it is more to the point and has the correct keyword. So here’s hoping it will get me to that first interview!


    1. Sean Post author

      Hi John

      Thanks for your comment, it’s much appreciated.

      I was reading a CV of a VB (Vehicle Builder) recently that I came across by chance on one of the online CV Libraries.

      He’d worked for quite a few well known companies. His CV loosely described the work he’d done and he seemed like a skilled and capable individual.

      Nowhere on his CV did he mention the words “Vehicle Builder” “Coach Builder” “Mechanical Fitter” “Mech Fitter” “Trains” or “Rolling Stock

      He’d managed to describe what he’d done without ever needing to use these words. Great for someone reading it, but not very easy to find.

      Fortunately we use a database that gives me the opportunity to tag the candidate with the skills they have and the job that we would consider them for.

      Regularly reviewing and tweaking your CV is definitely a worthwhile exercise.

      Sean Durrant

  2. Melissa

    Excellent advice! I’ve known that most government agencies use key word searching to weed out people as they get so many applications. It would make sense then that most companies are now doing this. I’ll have to keep this in mind for the future!

  3. Ashley O'Brien


    A really interesting insight to how recruiters find us candidates. I think most people appreciate the need for specific key words such as ‘design engineer’, but I think many people (Including me in the past) have not realised the value of adding alternative phrases which mean the same thing, as you mention above, to be found in the most key word searches.

    I guess this shows why it is important to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for, trying to include all of the key words listed in the job spec in your CV (Providing they apply to the candidates profile of course).


  4. Luke

    Hi Sean,

    An interesting read and a highlight of some potential issues with my CV.

    It does highlight the fact that due to the use of these methods for searching for suitable candidates, that the recruiters, employers and candidates are missing out on quality over quantity connections.

    Nevertheless, we must live with what we are given unfortunately.

    Thanks for writing the article and teaching me a thing or two about modern recruiting.

    Kind regards

    1. Sean Durrant Post author

      Hey Luke

      Always happy to help.

      There’s a lot of good candidates out there that may have to work harder at demonstrating their experience relevant to the role they’re applying for.

      Good luck in the job search

  5. Tom Bullivant

    Being a technically traded service leaver, I believe this is a very important issue. A lot of terminology used in the forces differs from that in industry so It’s crucial to know what your ideal employers (who possibly won’t have military background/knowledge) will be searching for.

    Great blog Sean.

    1. Sean Durrant Post author

      Hi Tom

      You’re spot on and this is the crux of why I wrote a post on CV Advice for Ex Forces. A lot of ex military engineers have transferrable skills that can be suitable for jobs in rail but they just haven’t managed to explain it in such a way that it makes sense to someone that hasn’t served in the engineering branches of the armed forces.

  6. James Swanepoel

    Hello Sean

    Just sent you my CV. I should have read this first. My CV needs some work.
    Explains why I have been left wondering why with all my experience I never seem to get anywhere in job searches.
    Thanks for the advice.

  7. E D MacIntyre

    I’ve also heard that you can wright down key words in white, in the blank white spaces of your CV, this won’t effect the appearance of your CV at all when printed, but it will trick the database into reading these invisible words and selecting your CV. Not that I’ve ever done this. But I do try and use the rule you’ve explained in this article, it’s solid advice!

    1. Sean Durrant Post author

      Hi – Yes that’s something I’ve heard also (they call it “black hat SEO“). The idea is that you repeat a key phrase for jobs that you want to be found for like “mechanical fitter” and then you’ll appear higher in the search results when people are searching the job boards for someone with your skills. Whether it works or not I’m not sure, but if you have any luck with it let me know.

  8. Gary Anders Kristensen MBE

    I had a previous CV go through a recruiter’s software and the ‘picture’ of me that came back was not representative of what I wanted to portray, so this is very good advice, thanks Sean.

  9. Zeljko ( Zack ) Zujko

    Hi Sean
    Almost year pass I’m with clemtec
    Really happy with job still rolling buy contract will finish soon. Can you please if you know best link I can improve my CV to be better. I wiahbtp get in new opportunity
    Hopping to find job from contract to permanent position.
    Kindly regards.

  10. John Moult

    Hi Sean,

    As a military service leaver, I have had no requirement to write a CV as I joined the military from school.

    I shall take this advice on board and I appreciate your time and effort in writing it.

  11. Brian Emery

    Useful artical. 28 years in the same industry/company and I am struggling to produce a CV that stands out . I know I have something to offer but need to present it in the right way .thanks

    1. Sean Durrant Post author

      Hi Brian

      I know exactly what you mean as I’ve had the same issue myself in the past.

      I wrote a blog post about it here

      Another thing that helped was asking someone that knew nothing about my job, what I did and how I did it. It was question after question of “so then what did you do” and “why did you do that” and “so what did that result in?” all of which gave me raw material to produce more information.

      I managed to go from a few lines to a few paragraphs and then I cherry picked the best bits.

      Maybe that could work for you too?

  12. Anthony Bourne

    Very interesting and I have experienced this a lot. Before I wrote ” will relocate ” on my cv, I never got one response. Unfortunately, my skill sets are extensive so I would have to re-write my cv for every job application I use it for, depending on the role I am applying for. I have also fallen foul of putting too much information in and, bizarrely, leaving stuff out even though it wasn’t relevant to the job. I feel the whole cv system has outlived its usefulness. If I wrote my cv with just an outline of all I have done in my 44 years of employment, it would be 12 pages long. No-one would bother to read it. Without a professional written cv, the document is next to useless, Unfortunately, being unemployed, I cannot afford to hire a professional to write my cv. The whole system seems to be damned if you don’t, damned if you do.

  13. Lucas Bassani

    Hi Sean,

    In my opinion, one of the toughest things to do is to write a CV with the correct words to describe the professional experience and at the same time use the better words to turn it visible to the recruiters. I guess the best way to put all this information together is tailoring your CV in accordance with the job you are applying to.

    That`s an excellent article, thanks for sharing.

    Kind regards,

  14. Pawandeep Singh

    Hi Sean
    This will certainly help me to improve my cv since I haven’t really used any keywords related to my trade in my previous cv’s sent to recruiters.


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