A Weighted O*NET Keyword Search (WWS)


February 2021 (revised)
October 2005 (original)

Web Applications

Jeremiah Morris


A keyword search is an important option for customers engaged in career exploration. Access to a search allows them to use titles or activities to generate a targeted list of occupations to potentially explore. Many general-purpose algorithms exist for searching large text documents; however, the smaller, highly structured text items included in the O*NET database call for different search techniques.

Several approaches have been used to produce a keyword search for finding O*NET occupations; this document outlines the past approaches and presents the latest algorithm used within the My Next Move, O*NET OnLine, and O*NET Code Connector applications. As with all O*NET products, the keyword search is subject to a continuous improvement philosophy, with search results and customer feedback used to drive potential future enhancements.

Appendix A: Supplemental Alternate Titles contains alternate titles used in the keyword search, but not included in the published Alternate Titles in the O*NET Database. The file format matches the published file. These titles may cause confusion within a particular occupation's alternate title listing, but are beneficial for a keyword search where lists of potential match candidates are displayed.

Appendix B: Supplemental Exact Match Titles contains additional items used in the “exact match” phase of the keyword search, including singular equivalents, hot technologies, hot technology synonyms, and occupation titles from previous O*NET-SOC taxonomies. These titles are used, along with O*NET-SOC taxonomy titles, published Alternate Titles, and Supplemental Alternate Titles from Appendix A below, to generate results during the “exact match” phase.

Paper updated February 2021

Appendices updated May 2024