Recruiters actively search LinkedIn to find the best talent. They use specific keywords to cull quickly through thousands of profiles in just minutes. These keywords help recruiters hone in on potential candidates with the right professional experience and qualifications. In short, even if you do have a background that makes you an ideal professional fit, if you don’t have the right keyword optimization in your profile, recruiters may never find your LinkedIn profile. Worse, if your profile is stuffed with overused buzzwords like “passionate”, “extensive experience”, “responsible”, “innovative” or “driven”, you’re wasting valuable space.
Keywords can make the difference between your LinkedIn profile being found or passed over in favor of someone else. Here’s how to identify the right keywords and then put them in the right places for maximum impact:
How to Find LinkedIn Keywords
Keywords are subjective because they vary based on industry, experience, current job, qualifications, and where you want to head next. For example, let’s say you’ve been the successful development director at a nonprofit for the last five years. Now, you’re ready to move away from nonprofit fundraising work into a business development position with a larger company. Rather than emphasizing your nonprofit background, you’ll want to choose terms that reflect your relationship building skill set. If you wanted to stay in the nonprofit sector, you’d emphasize your nonprofit background and fundraising development.
For this reason, one of the best ways to start keyword research is to actually just “talk it out”. Sit with a friend who is outside your industry and describe your current job. How do you describe your current position? Which phrases resonate most with your friend? Are you getting hung up on titles or job responsibilities rather than actual hard and soft skills? Next, search job boards for positions similar to your current one and a future dream job. What phrases are used the most to describe candidate skill sets and accomplishments? Finally, take this list of keyword phrases and search LinkedIn. What LinkindIn profiles appear? What can you learn from these examples?
Where to Put LinkedIn Keywords
While LinkedIn's search algorithm is a closely guarded secret, extra weight may be given to keyword optimization placed in the Headline and Experience Job Title.
These 120 characters are prime LinkedIn real estate. Make each one count by naturally integrating keywords into your headline that build your professional brand and demonstrate value. Instead of simply listing your job title and company, include your skills and accomplishment keywords in the job title. For example, “Information Director at ABC Firm” would change to “IT Director Building Strategic Relationships and Transforming Global Enterprise Growth”. That headline is a lot more informative and spot-on with keywords!
This is another great place to list additional descriptors. While you shouldn’t invent a job title you don’t have, adding keyword phrases after the title will more fully explain your job function to someone outside your company or industry. For example, if your title is “Senior Consultant”, add a short description that reflects your responsibilities or accomplishments. In this example, “Senior Consultant” would change to” Senior Consultant for IT Global Enterprise Growth.”
While the summary is not as highly indexed as your job title, it’s still an important place for naturally integrating keywords. Remember, the summary is not the place to list you current job duties. A LinkedIn summary is where you tell your professional story. And using the LinkedIn profile keyword optimization will help you tell an even better story!