SEO Strategy,

Applying Keyword SEO to Your CV or Resume


Reading time:

You are undoubtedly qualified, but your resume sits in digital stack among hundreds, facing two critical hurdles before it can succeed in securing you an interview:  first, the notorious database filter; next, the scrutinizing eyes of a bullet-and-keyword-scanning HR manager.

Like optimizing a web page for competitive, page-one search engine ranking for a particular set of keywords, pushing your resume past the robots and the HR eyeballs and into the interview pile depends largely on how well the resume’s keyword phrases match those used in the desired job description.

These all-important keywords fall into two broad groups:  Keyword qualifiers will get your resume over the first, automated hurdle—synonymous with ranking within the first 2-3 pages of a search engine’s results, where it stands a low chance of discovery.  But keyword differentiators catapult your CV onto the first page of results, significantly increasing your chances of winning the searcher’s click and thus securing you a precious interview slot.

Thankfully, the keyword research is already done for you; all the important keywords are present in the job description.  Your challenge is to mine the keyword nuggets from the job description and weave them seamlessly into your resume.

As and example, let’s identify, segment and analyze keyword qualifiers and differentiators from the below job description for an SEO Product Manager:

Key Areas of Responsibility:

  • Generate and collect project ideas
  • Define product strategy for own products based on engagement with business stakeholders (predominantly the global SEO team)
  • Manage a range of projects according to company strategy and business priorities
  • Prioritize projects for development
  • Support the SEO team to institutionalize SEO knowledge and best practice throughout the business, especially Product and technology teams, through having external awareness and a passion for the area
  • Create and verify business models to evaluate project business impact
  • Develop and validate global business requirements with colleagues in other parts of the business for the software development team
  • Contribute to strategic planning as needed


Successful candidates will have the ability to:

  • Manage multiple projects from inception through completion
  • Communicate with multiple teams and different cultures
  • Operate in a fast moving environment
  • Quickly adjust work to accommodate new business priorities (both within SEO and wider)
  • Produce high quality business requirements documentation
  • Deliver tangible results as a product manager, project manager and business analyst within own projects
  • Deliver an effective, efficient, highly visible and transparent SEO product portfolio which has the engagement of all stakeholders
  • Create high quality business models
  • Learn and understand new businesses quickly
  • Understand technology capabilities and limitations
  • Generate trust and credibility with key business and development stakeholders
  • Take proactive ownership and leadership of projects and deliverables
  • Make portfolio and project trade-off decisions with the support and engagement of stakeholders
  • Meaningfully contribute to the company’s long-term product and technology strategy
  • Work through ambiguity and complexity to deliver results through own initiative
  • Identify, recommend and implement business improvement initiatives


Education, Experience & Qualifications:

  • Bachelor degree or equivalent expected
  • MBA preferred
  • Travel industry / tour operator technology experience preferred and online commerce experience a plus
  • SEO knowledge or experience is a must have
  • Expert understanding of site structure, linking, copy and content challenges and how they need to be tuned to maximise return from natural search
  • Proven experience scoping and delivering search optimisation product strategies with a complex dynamic e-commerce website
  • Excellent oral/written communication skills.
  • Highly numerate, analytical and able to demonstrate strong attention to detail


First, the typical buzzwords such as leadership, teams, strategy and communication I consider neither keyword qualifiers nor differentiators; they appear in the vast majority of resumes and are therefore unlikely filters at either stage.

Keyword Qualifiers

SEO—clearly the most important keyword; stated in job title, throughout the description, and a “must have” in the qualifications section.  Notice the acronym is only once substituted with ‘search optimisation,’ so make sure to promote ‘SEO’ in your resume, and use the British spelling of ‘optimisation’ if you write out the term.  Other supporting keywords might include ‘pay-per-click’ (PPC) or ‘search engine marketing’ (SEM).

Project/product manager—also in the job title, repeated many times in description, likely a must find for automated scanners.

Bachelor’s degree—stated as first job requirement.


Keyword Differentiators

Now that your resume has made the first cut for ‘SEO Product Manager,’ it may rank within 50-100 competing for roughly 10 interview slots.  In the next phase, we consider keywords emphasized in the job description that are likely to score a nod of approval from an HR manager when she finds them in your resume…

Business + requirements / models / impact—as most SEO’s know, quantifiable results are often elusive; the use of these phrases in consecutive bullets indicates the company’s quest for measurable results; a replicable, well-defined process; and a long-term business case proving a positive return on time and cash.  Your resume will find favor with your reader if you demonstrate an appreciation of this concept through use of these phrases, even in reference to related experience.

Return­—closely related to the keywords above, this refers to return on investment (ROI)–the end goal of any serious search engine-based marketing strategy; use of the full term and/or acronym along with a percentage should impress the reader.

E-commerce (also clumsily referred to as online commerce)—either you have experience here, or you don’t.  But be sure to include the keyword, if applicable.

Travel industry—same as above; combined with ‘e-commerce’ is ideal, if you have it.

Fast moving—the use of this quasi-buzzword shows that the company considers its work environment as fast-paced (though who would concede a slow-paced work atmosphere)?  While search bots are unlikely to screen for this or related keywords, the author of the job description and/or hiring manager likely considers it a unique quality of the company.

Copy and content—a bit of industry jargon and somewhat repetitive, this refers generally to all written text on the website; too specific for the auto-screener’s list but will certainly demonstrate industry knowledge to the reader.

Priority/prioritize—the term is used twice within the opening 4 bullets; surely your past experience required you to prioritize, so don’t leave this keyword out.

Different cultures—this term invites several others like global, international, multinational, etc., indicating a desire for international experience and/or exposure to foreign cultures.  Since the job requirement uses ‘cultures,’ best to match it exactly.

Passion­—something of an ‘X-factor’ that’s likely to come out mostly in an interview.  But it’s in the job description for a reason, and dropping it into your resume should be easy enough.  You can also reference ‘passion’ for a hobby or activity in your personal life.

Stakeholders—appears four times, which a keen SEO might ironically flag as ‘keyword stuffing’.  Regardless, the repetition indicates importance.  Stakeholders exist everywhere, so seek an opportunity to insert this keyword in your resume once or twice.

Initiative—repeated twice in final two bullets of ‘Abilities’ section, first with ‘own’ and next with ‘business improvement.’  Linking ‘initiative’ with ‘business + improvement/requirements/model’ from above could work well here.

Keyword differentiating nuggets are sure to pay dividends when sprinkled smartly into your resume story.  Because most competing resumes are unlikely to reach for this degree of customization, yours will shine like a gem and fulfill its sole purpose—to get you the interview.

Ready to scale your marketing-sourced revenue?