3 Key Principles to Make HR Keyword Masters

3 Key Principles to Make HR Keyword Masters

by Angie Rupp

We preach over and over again in our free webinars and seminars at SHRM events to HR professionals that the key to hiring success is all about evolution. In fact, we’ve said it so many times that you may even start to twitch if you have to hear it one more time. Brace yourself because I’m about to spend the next six paragraphs of your life reinforcing it. Except this time, I’ll be discussing something a little more nitty gritty – keywords.

Everyone in HR should be just as proficient at hiring specific keywords as their marketing team.

If you have your hand in recruiting (regardless of how minimal) and you haven’t the slightest idea what I’m talking about, then it’s a good thing you found this post. If you consider yourself more of a hiring novice, and understand the basic principles about keywords, but wouldn’t feel comfortable boasting your keyword knowledge to a marketer coworker, then you need this post. It’s my personal belief that everyone in HR who writes a job ad or posts their openings on any hiring medium should be just as proficient (if not more so) at hiring specific keywords as their marketing team.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a keyword? – Officially, it’s a word or phrase used by a website visitor when searching for something on a search engine. I’d like to take this definition a bit further and suggest that it’s essentially the gateway to communication in the virtual realm. Think about it. For example, there isn’t a designated sorter online in the same way encyclopedias are categorized. Encyclopedias are perfectly organized by way of a streamlined and universal system – alphabetization. Unfortunately, websites don’t function the same way. They don’t rely on categories that are simplified and specific (not on the user’s end anyway). Instead, they use a much more elusive and complex system that relies on algorithms to determine how closely matched your site’s content is to whatever keywords or phrases are typed into the search engine’s search box. See the problem? There are no rules, but rather an infinite amount of words someone can enter into a search box when they hop online and your task is to figure out what the most likely combinations will be for your target demographic. Since big players like Indeed.com and Simplyhired.com function the same way search engines do, your target demographic is potential applicants.

Here are a few keyword strategies to make the seemingly impossible, possible.

  1. Start by speaking the language of job seekers.

Understanding this step is the key to finding high quality applicants, and if you take one thing away from this post, let it be this. Remember the no rules thing? This has the potential to create a pretty wide communication gap between what HR thinks their applicants want and what applicants really value and it starts with something as simple as the words applicants type when they’re searching for jobs. If your job ad/description isn’t chock full of the language of your job seekers, then no one will see your ad. Forget about quality applicants; you’ll be lucky to get any applicants at all . . .

If your job ad/description isn’t chock full of the language of your job seekers, then no one will see your ad.”

  1. Use your job title – it’s a goldmine.

Your job title is perhaps the single most valuable resource you have at your disposal to reach job seekers, so use it! The keywords here carry more weight than in the body of your ad and should be utilized accordingly. Pick strategic keywords that will reach the widest audience possible and don’t forget to add your location because most search based job boards prompt seekers to enter in keywords, and a location.

  1. Fear based tactics don’t work.

There’s no reason to fear the effects of having hundreds of people apply for one of your positions

I know it was (and still is) common practice to try and scare people away from applying to open positions. Job descriptions are filled with a never-ending list of demands and very specific qualifications, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you prefer a Masters degree? Is the former employee who served in that position a superstar employee who also had that degree? Or, are you simply adding it, well, just because? If there isn’t any evidence collected to support higher level of education equaling a stellar fit for your opening, then get rid of those keywords. Chances are, you’re hurting yourself by scaring off people who could be that diamond in the rough employee you’ve been searching for. Another dimension to consider here is with modern technology, AKA hiring software, like ApplicantPro, there’s no reason to fear the effects of having hundreds of people apply for one of your positions. Inspire people to apply by writing a killer job ad embedded with high caliber keywords, and then weed out people who you don’t think would be a good fit by developing strategic screening questions to be used during the application.

Hopefully, this post has helped you feel a little more confident about the keywords process and how understanding it can make a world of difference in eliminating hiring stress. If you’d like to dig a little deeper into how to choose the right keywords for your applicants, then sign up to receive the latest updates about our free Webinars. We pride ourselves in transforming HR professionals into Internet marketing geniuses to lessen hiring risk and skyrocket strategic impact.

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