Keywords are the bread and butter of the online world. Additionally, gone are the days of newspaper classifieds and help wanted signs since our hiring process has experienced a 180-degree shift over the past five or so years. This shift sent ripples through the HR industry because it’s no longer “enough” to simply understand compliance and conduct interviews – HR professionals are required to be extremely proficient on the web if they hope to ever attract top talent. Non-profit hiring is no exception. If you don’t understand the power of keywords at least as well as if not more so than your marketing team, then this post is for you.

Before we jump into the takeaways for adopting a solid keywords approach, let’s first discuss what keywords are. In a nutshell, keywords are words or phrases that are searched for by an Internet audience. When referring to the hiring realms, our audience is job seekers. Keywords for applicants would typically be the words they type into a search box when they’re searching for jobs. If they’re using a job aggregator or job board, they’re likely going to be using keywords that are specific to the jobs they’re hunting for: words like “sales” and “marketing.”

Now that we’ve specified what keywords are, let’s talk about how you can use them to attract high quality applicants:

Speak the keywords language of your job seekers, not your HR team.

One of the first places we look in our quest to help our clients hire more efficiently is their job ads. We like to start here because the job ad essentially sets the tone for the job candidates. If the ad is written from the perspective of the HR representative as opposed to the talent, then the job ad is likely to be overlooked completely, or worse, not found at all. To combat this issue, we suggest removing the HR hat and approaching the job search as an applicant. If you were an applicant, which jobs would you search for? What keywords would you type into the search box? If you listed the job title in your ad as something that is unrecognizable to an outsider, then change it. No one who works outside of that organization knows to search for “Master Accountant III.” Most applicants will opt for the keywords accounting or accountant when searching for jobs in the accounting space.

Infuse your ads with variations of keywords.

It’s impossible to choose one set of keywords and reach all of the potential job seekers out there. It can’t be done. Instead, opt for variations of popular keywords and infuse your ads with those. A great free source for determining which keywords pack the meanest punch and cast the widest net can be found on Here, you set up a free account and then type keywords or phrases of keywords to determine how often that phrase or word is searched. If you discover that there are a couple of keywords that attract a lot of attention, make sure that you pepper your ad with each of them.

See how your keywords compare to other high ranking ads.

One of the best tools for determining how you stack up in the optimized job ad space is to compare your ad with other high ranking ads. This gives you a glimpse into how well you’ve used your keywords and also provides opportunities to make appropriate changes to your keywords strategy. A great place to go for comparisons is This free tool uses an algorithm to compare your keyword density alongside another high ranking ad.

Ready to see how your keywords measure up against others in the industry? Our non-profit hiring experts can help! Call us now to get started.