Because everyone should dig their job

Finding the "key" words to the job

By Carole Martin

The words you use to express yourself say more about you than you think. In fact, your vocabulary and the use of appropriate words say more about you than the message you are trying communicate. You are judged by the words you use. When you are looking for a job it is not only important to use the "right" words and language—it is essential.

It begins with the writing of your resumé and continues in the way that you answer the questions asked in an interview. Each industry uses "key words" or "lingo" for each position. In order to be prepared it will be important for you to research these words and to use them appropriately. If you do, you will sound more knowledgeable and "in-the-know."

How will I know which words are "key"?

Key words are found in job postings/ads. For each position there are common words that describe what is required for a job. Job postings are a list of qualities and skills employers are looking for in a candidate - their "wish list."

Here is an example of common words used in postings for an Executive Secretary position: (Six postings were used)

  • "Confidential" (used in all six postings)
  • "Ability to proofread and edit" (used in all six postings)
  • "Excellent written and verbal communication skills" (used in four of six postings)
  • "Organized, Attention to detail" (used in all six postings)
  • Other words used included, "Discretion," "Judgment," "Self-starter," "Scheduling," "Prioritize," and "Multi-tasking."

If you are applying for an Executive secretary position these are the key words to include in your cover letter and resume. Electronic resume scanners will seek out these words to select your resume as qualified for the position. If these words are missing your resume may not be selected. These are also the words to use in the interview that will make you sound like someone who is a good fit for the position.

Finding the Key Words for Your Position

A good place to start is with job postings. Common words are used to describe the requirements needed for each job. By printing out several posting you will begin to see the "key" words repeated over and over. The only criteria for finding these words should be that you are interested in the job and not limiting your search by location. Make a list of the words that are used repeatedly and note how often they are used.

Another source of words is The Occupational Information Network (http://online.onetcenter.org). You will find a complete list of occupation keywords, SOC codes, Job Families. This site also lists skills required—basic skills, social skills, experience and tasks required. Check these words against the list from the job postings you used to build a stronger list.

When you begin to write your resume or prepare your interview script you will find these words invaluable. Of course, you would never use a word just to impress your interviewer. Knowing the definition behind the word is what will convince the interviewer that you know what you are talking about.

The right words can make a big difference in a single statement—more concise and to the point—more powerful and impressive. Finding the "key" words will make your statements more powerful. Speaking the industry lingo will help you be taken more seriously as a candidate worthy of a job offer.