Top keywords to use in your CVSelecting the right words, phrases and sentences to get noticed is vital in appealing to your potential employers, whether writing a good CV or creating an effective LinkedIn profile. Recruitment firms and in-house recruiters increasingly rely on applicant tracking software (ATS), electronic screening systems which filter CVs according to keywords; these are words or phrases which illustrate your key skills, strengths, knowledge, experience and qualifications. Writing a professional CV that stands out from the database crowds is all about optimising your keywords and avoiding generic jargon or meaningless buzzwords.

Tangible outcomes make the difference

In a tough job market, you need a proven, measurable background of success to impress potential employers. Some roles, for example sales, have clear performance indicators, with client wins, revenue growth and commission records making this process straightforward. In other, perhaps more process-driven roles, you’ll need to find other ways to persuade; process improvements, or completed projects, or challenges overcome, for example. Good CV writing is all about the effective highlighting and presentation of achievements.

Lose the jargon

Phrases like ‘results-focused’ have been over-used to the point where they’re irrelevant; they can even send the message that you’re unimaginative and predictable and that you tend towards doing the bare minimum even when faced with such an important task as creating a good CV or LinkedIn profile. So it’s the specific, highly relevant achievements, where you’ve used your talent to give an employer a measurable benefit, that will get you noticed. Work out what those achievements or strengths are and connect them in words or phrases to a target job description; those are your keywords.

Be the candidate they want

If you’re an executive, make sure you write a good executive CV. And follow the target job specification with precision; for leadership positions, your CV must show that your work history demonstrates a senior level of management responsibility. Identify the most important leadership keywords – ‘staff training and development’, for example, and make sure they appear throughout your CV or LinkedIn profile. For a good graduate CV, you need to convey a different skillset, demonstrating potential, motivation and commitment, but the principles remain the same.

Solve the recruiter’s problem

The more your CV and LinkedIn profile matches the keywords on a recruiter’s job spec, the closer you are to making his or her day by matching your background to their search. Make it easy for them – if you’re writing a good cover letter, use the phrases from the job description almost verbatim, as it will send a big red flag to that recruiter, who may well have written that description. If you express your strengths and worth to a potential employer in a concise and clear manner that precisely matches what they and their software are searching for, you will be at an enormous advantage compared to the huge numbers of candidates who are not working as smartly as you.


City CV boasts a talented team of CV writers and consultants with over 100 years of joint experience. With our insider knowledge and expertise we know what recruiters and ATS expect to see on CVs. To find out how we can help you, call today on +44 20 7100 6656 or send an email to enquiries@citycv.com.