Why Recruitment Searches Need to Go Beyond Skill Keywords on Resumes

Go Beyond Skill Keywords for Talent Search

A typical way recruiters source and shortlist candidates is by looking at skill keywords on resumes and job seeker profiles. However, this approach of focusing solely on skill keywords can actually hinder recruitment teams from hiring top candidates as it narrows the pool of talent available to them, thus affecting the quality and diversity of talent they hire.


In order to find the best candidates for job vacancies, recruitment searches on LinkedIn and other portals will have to go beyond skill keywords in order to get a more holistic and rounded insight into candidates’ skillset, experience, workplace cultural fit, and background. Besides how this approach can increase the quality of hires in an organisation, here are 5 main reasons and benefits to go beyond search results using skill keywords listed on resumes or job descriptions.


1. Candidates Have Diverse Backgrounds That Keywords Cannot Capture

Simply sourcing through skill keywords from job descriptions prevents recruiters from gaining a deeper understanding of candidates. Keywords do not accurately capture a candidate’s entire spectrum of experiences, skillsets, and background, and other important attributes of a candidate such as their leadership capabilities, adaptability, communication and collaborative skills, as well as their capacity to learn.


This focus on skill keywords also leads to reduced diversity in an organisation, which can result in companies missing out on valuable viewpoints, ideas, and unique approaches to problem solving that would otherwise come out of a diverse workplace – a huge drawback especially when many hiring companies and organisations are looking to foster diversity at work.


Candidates have Diverse Backgrounds


Going beyond skill keywords when sourcing and recruiting talent can lead to increased diversity which comes with many benefits. These benefits include increased creativity and innovation from having people of different backgrounds work together, as well as having a competitive edge over other companies as a diverse workforce allows a company to be better positioned in managing cultural nuances in global business activities.


2. Resume Skills Do Not Guarantee Success and Culture Fit

Even though a candidate might seem perfect on a resume since they appear to possess all the requisite hard skills for an open role, this does not necessarily guarantee their success in the workplace. Skill keywords might be able to capture a candidate’s hard skills relatively well, but it cannot give recruiters a reliable understanding of how well a candidate collaborates and communicates with others, or how well the candidate handles multiple deadlines at once – all of which can make a candidate a bad hire.


A better way to search for the right candidate is an all-round assessment of his or her background, by analysing personal websites, portfolios, social media profiles, and professional associations that they might be a part of. A candidate who has demonstrated community spirit and an average set of skills can still be a better employee than one who does not work well with others.


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3. Skills and Education Can Become Obsolete

Time erodes everything, from relationships to even skills and certifications. What someone may have learned 15 years ago in college may be redundant in today’s working environment. In the tech space, where advancements are made at an even more rapid pace, recruiters can be misled when candidates simply list down every skill keyword in their resume.


Skills and Education Can Become Obsolete


Rather than look at old university degrees or skill keywords in a resume, it would be wiser to see what kind of upskilling courses or further education a candidate has undergone in recent years. Taking the initiative to continually improve shows commitment to lifelong learning and can be a quality trait to many employers.


4. Keywords Do Not Always Show Project Results

Searching for talent by skill keywords can shed light on a person’s certifications, but it does not always show the results of projects a candidate has been involved in. Did a particular skill lead to a successful project that generated revenue for the company? A keyword is unable to tell the full story.


It is important to then find direct project links (either from their resume or other platforms) to better understand what exactly a candidate has produced and see if it is in line with the needs of the hiring company. These portfolio links are usually displayed on resumes and sometimes are found on career profiles.


A more efficient way of searching for talent in a more holistic way this is by using artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Scout to help you broaden your pool of talent. Scout searches through a candidate’s digital presence and returns results such as their website, portfolio of past projects, and, particularly for tech talent, their contributions in techie communities such as open-source software development platform GitHub. This allows recruiters to get a more rounded insight to potential candidates, enabling them to look beyond keywords on a resume and see what tangible contributions and projects a candidate has worked on in the past, ultimately leading to more informed hiring decisions.


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5. Overlooking Transferable Skills When Focusing on Skill Keywords

At the same time, focusing only on skill keywords can cause recruiters to overlook transferable skills and miss out on hiring quality talent due to this narrow search since some skills are still relevant across various jobs and industries.


Overlooking Transferable Skills


For example, if a project manager has strong leadership and collaborative skills, as well as possesses a demonstrated track record of delivering big budget projects to completion in a timely manner, these skillsets are transferable across a wide range of industries. By narrowing in on specific skill keywords alone, organisations might miss out on strong candidates that could add value to their organisation.



We recommend taking a more comprehensive approach to sourcing and recruiting which can help recruitment teams gain greater insight into a candidate’s background, skillset, experiences, portfolio of work, transferrable skills, workplace cultural fit as well as personal traits and attributes – all of which are more telling of a candidate’s potential in an organisation.


This approach can help organisations make more informed hiring decisions and prevent costly, bad hires that can still occur even when a candidate matches all the skill keywords required in a job posting.


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