How to optimize your LinkedIn profile with the right keywords

I know that “optimizing” your LinkedIn profile can sound daunting. But don’t worry! In this post I’ll break down why optimizing your profile with the right keywords is important, how to find the right keywords, and how to make the different sections of your profile keyword-dense.

But before we dive in to all that, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page about LinkedIn. How would you answer this question?

What’s the purpose of having a LinkedIn profile?

On a day-to-day basis, many of us use LinkedIn for messaging, commenting on news, and sharing tips or trends. However, oftentimes these more social activities could be better done on other platforms, like Facebook or Twitter.

The most significant reason we’re on LinkedIn – whether we’d admit it to our current boss or not – is to give our career a boost. We might hope that being on LinkedIn helps us to build our professional networks, gain visibility in our industries, or to get a new job or a career advancement.

Now that we’re on the same page with having a career-oriented mindset for using LinkedIn, I hope you’d agree that investing your time in improving your LinkedIn profile is worthwhile. If you do it right (ahem, apply what you learn from this blog post!), you can increase the likelihood that career opportunities will come to you, rather than needing to hunt them down.  

Why it’s important to optimize your LinkedIn profile with the right keywords

Although communication professionals like you and I generally use LinkedIn to further our own interests, hiring managers and external recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool that helps them do their jobs. LinkedIn helps to identify candidates who would be a good fit for a specific role based on the skills and experience that the users’ profiles say they possess.

This LinkedIn search engine feature is keyword-based, just like a Google search. Applying a basic concept of search engine optimization, the more keywords that a LinkedIn user has in their profile, the better that user would rank in the search results. If a hiring manager or recruiter can clearly see that a user would be a good fit based on their profile, then they would likely approach the person regarding a job opportunity.

So, when we say “optimizing,” it’s shorthand for “optimizing the keywords in your profile for search.” Peppering your LinkedIn profile with the right keywords can give you a higher ranking in relevant searches, and ultimately result in moving your career in the right direction.

How to find the right keywords

Stuck on what keywords are right for you? Do your homework and understand what skillsets that hiring managers and recruiters are looking for when it comes to your area of expertise.

Here are some suggestions to help you find the right keywords to use in your profile:

  • Look for position descriptions associated with job listings on LinkedIn, a company’s website or via your professional association (like CPRS or IABC for communication professionals), and identify skillsets and keywords that appear in the job(s) you dream of having one day.
  • Which of your current skillsets would you need to leverage if you were to move up to a higher role, or what transferrable skills would you need if you were to move to a lateral and slightly different role?
  • Refer to the Endorsements section at the bottom of your profile to give you an idea of the skills that you excel at.

Your goal is to identify the 5-6 main skillsets that you’d like to leverage in your job search. Then, jot down the keywords associated with each. The keyword could even be the skillset itself, such as media relations or project management. This is your list of words to craft your profile around!

How to optimize each section of your LinkedIn profile with keywords

Keyword density is exactly what it sounds like: The more these keywords appear in your profile, the better! The higher the density of keywords associated with your 5-6 main skillsets, the greater likelihood that you’ll appear in the right search results of hiring managers and recruiters.

Check out some points, summarized below, to increase keyword density and optimize the different sections of your profile as you scroll from its top to its bottom:

The “above the fold” area

  • Your photo – It doesn’t need to be professional, but you need to look approachable and engaging. Make sure it has good lighting and a neutral backdrop. Avoid selfies, photos with other people in them, or dated photos.
  • Your headline – Incorporate the 5-6 skillsets that you’d like to leverage in your job search here. Try to create a sentence or phrase, or try writing the skillsets with a vertical line (|) between each one.
  • Your summary – Keep this short and keyword-dense! Roll up your experience and explain it in a few sentences. Entice the viewer to keep reading. Include numbers, facts and figures.

The Work History section

  • Make sure that your work history is the same as on your resume to avoid confusing hiring managers or recruiters.
  • Ensure your job titles are the same as on your resume.
  • Link the companies that you worked at so that their logo appears, so that hiring mangers or recruiters can click on the logo and learn about the company so that you don’t have to explain it yourself.
  • Be objective when describing just the facts about your job. Include numbers, statistics, percentages and goals that you reached.
  • Don’t forget about keyword density! Include the keywords linked to your 5-6 main skillsets throughout your work history.

The Education, Certifications and Volunteering sections

After the Work History section, you can also include Education, Certifications and Volunteering sections if they’re applicable to you. Include your keywords as much as possible as you describe what you did or earned. Report on the facts of how you were involved or what you accomplished, and illustrate how you provided value based on your specialities.

The Endorsement section

Think about the top 10 areas that you’d like to highlight as part of your job search, and ensure they are the first ones that appear in this section. More endorsements from other professional contacts lend third-party credibility in the eyes of hiring managers or recruiters.

The Influencers, Companies and Groups sections

Think about people or public figures that you’re following, your groups and the companies you’re following too. Hiring managers and recruiters check out this section to see who you’re engaging with, what you’re learning, and what companies you’re interested in.

If you’re keen on engaging with a hiring manager from a specific company, follow the company to illustrate how serious you are in potentially working there.

That was a long post, so thanks for staying with me! I hope it was helpful.

Do you have questions about optimizing your profile with keywords? Please ask in the comments.

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Image credit: Moose Photos from Pexels.

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