Keywords and Job Searches

I’m always curious about how recruiters find my name because some of the jobs are obviously so far off from my skill set, I wonder if they’re reading my LinkedIn profile correctly. At the moment I am not looking for work; however, if I were, I would make an effort to do so, I would make certain that recruiters are reaching out to me for the right reasons. Below are some thoughts that might be useful to you.

What Type of Communicator Are You?

A large percentage of the technical writing community today is working in the information technology business, cranking out unbelievable amounts of system, user, marketing, and programmer documentation. I do practically none of those. On the other hand, while I do some marketing work, I would not be the first person I would choose for  an attention-getting sales and marketing copywriter. I’m in a hazy middle ground…somewhere. Nevertheless, were I looking for work, I would be certain to call out my key specialties, content expertise, and customer types.


These are really your primary outputs or products: reports, online help systems, certification documents, proposals, classroom scripts, white papers, and so forth. If your comfort zone is with the type(s) of work you do, then you would want to call out these specialties. Within each of those specialties is a cluster of “magic words” connected to them, which are often related to…


It’s one thing to write a white paper for an aerospace company, something else to write one for Big Pharma, IT, or some other industry. If you’re hunting for additional work in your current field. You might, for example, highlight the programs you’ve supported, the types of pharmacology you have written about, or the types of programming environments you’ve supported. Employers like to know that you speak their language.


Another important aspect of your professional profile is your customer base–not just the types of organizations you work for, but the audiences of the products they want you to produce. In a way, technical communicators serve as “translators,” striving to ensure that content from one particular source is shared with its intended audience in the form and voice they want. For example, many of the products I write and edit in the aerospace industry translate among the corporate, engineering, and government communities. These customers (and their audiences) expect their content to be clear and useful to the reader. Since what I write about is, indeed, rocket science, the clearer it can be explained, the better.  Throw in the ability to explain the benefits of a technology (the “so what?” part of any technical organization’s communication outputs), the more useful you can be for things like proposals.

Another critical aspect of knowing your customers is knowing how to work in their working environment–large, medium, or small. Large organizations often have complex structures, larger teams, and sometimes multiple review layers; small organizations can be a lot more freewheeling and expect their employees or contractors to be able to get going on their own without a lot of guidance. For example, being a “self-starter” would be more useful at a small organization while being a “team player” would be more valued in a larger organization. Corporate culture can affect your work as well. A large company like Google still tries to provide a looser, small-company culture. Again, it comes back to speaking your audience’s preferred “language.”

The better you can identify your preferred work–the outputs, the content, and the customers–the better you can add the necessary keywords to make certain that recruiters are finding the perfect job for their–and your–needs!

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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