The Key to Long-Tail Keyword Searches in Recruiting and Job Search

The Merriam Webster Dictionary says a keyword is “a significant word from a title or document used especially as an index to content”.

Well, the keyword in this definition is “significant”.

There are three questions:

1. Which keywords to use?

2. How significant do keywords need to be (tail length)?

3. How many significant keywords do we need to describe what we are looking for?

1. Which keywords to use?

When recruiters search for job candidates in a resume database they have to come up with a list of keywords. For recruiters this part is quite easy: They can take the requirements from their job posting. The requirements in a job posting give a long list of keywords to use for search. Recruiters are looking for people who match the requirements "on paper". The average job posting on the internet has 20 requirements resulting in about 40 keywords.

For job seekers it is much harder to figure out what keywords to use. Many don’t realize that the requirements in job postings are the most significant keywords for them, too if they want their job search to go anywhere. 

2. How significant do keywords need to be (tail length)?

Significance is the number of words in a keyword. Examples:

  • "Bachelor" has the significance 1
  • "Bachelor Degree" has the significance 2
  • "Bachelor Science Mechanical Engineering" has the significance 4

The higher the significance the less likely the keyword occurs in documents.

3. How many significant keywords do we need to describe what we are looking for?

The answer depends on the subject of the search. In job search and recruiting we need a lot of keywords with significance to produce a useful result.

The Brick Wall

We hit a brick wall: If we enter all the significant keywords the computer would not find any resumes or job postings that contain all of them or even some. If we want any result we have to reduce the number of keywords we enter. This makes the search less focused. Keyword indices are not published making the search a tedious trial-and-error exercise.

Why is the computer not helping? Even Siri or Cortana take us to Nowhere.

The simple answer: A computer has no f… idea what we are talking about.

Computers can only process numbers but not text. Any word character is translated into a number via a lookup table. The keyword we enter is translated into a string of numbers and compared in the keyword index of the database to all strings of numbers there. 

Publish Significant Keywords

If we want to make the search with keywords easier we have to publish the index of significant keywords and their tail length that are in resumes and job postings and tell which occur where. To be clear: These are not the keywords other people are searching with which can be found through SEO tools. Having a list of what is available allows us to avoid invalid keyword combinations which result in time wasted.

Today, we waste a lot of time on invalid keyword combinations. 

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