Four tips for optimising your LinkedIn profile with keywords

career guides


We’ve been running webinars and workshops with Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO of career consultancy City CV, on how to make the most of LinkedIn. Questions about how to use keywords often crop up, so we asked Victoria to share her top tips in this blog.

With over 670 million people on LinkedIn, how do you boost your chances of showing up in relevant searches? The most important factor is having a complete, up-to-date and regularly refreshed profile, with a photo. But, keyword optimisation also plays a huge role.

Keywords are words or phrases that recruiters and hiring managers use in their search queries. They’re also the ones that resonate with your target audience; the ones that answer their main questions, ‘how can you help me?’ or ‘are you a great fit for this role?’ 

LinkedIn gives you many opportunities to include appropriate keywords and it’s a smart move to make the most of it. 

Here are our top four tips for researching and using keywords on LinkedIn:  

1.    Put yourself in your recruiter's shoes

What might an employer or recruiter type in if they’re looking for someone like you to fill a business need? Try it yourself. If, for example, you’re an Events Manager, look at the profiles of people who come at the top of those search results and see what keywords they’re using. You can do the same with job ads (on LinkedIn and elsewhere). 

Another idea is to follow prominent influencers in your sector to see the latest trending words and phrases they’re using in their articles and updates. You’ll soon have a useful list of keywords and phrases for your target role or sector.

2.    Use your keywords effectively 

Most industries have career-specific terms, jargon and acronyms. It’s important to include these keywords in your profile, as target employers will use them in their job descriptions and person specifications. If you’ve been on a career break, make sure your keywords are up-to-date; the terminology may have changed. 

Recruiters often search for specific technical skills or software experience, so make sure you include these, using the full name and the abbreviation if appropriate. Your desired work location is an often-overlooked keyword. Yet, it’s the first thing many recruiters search.  

You’ll often find clichés, such as ‘excellent team player’ in job descriptions. That doesn’t mean you should stuff your LinkedIn profile with them. Instead, look at the projects or roles where you can demonstrate these skills. 

For example, variations on the phrase ‘outstanding communicator’ crop up a lot in job descriptions. Just stating that in your LinkedIn profile isn’t very convincing. Instead, look for ways to write about your communications expertise in high impact areas such as project management, key account relationship building or team leadership.

Take care to use terms that are commonly used to describe a professional at your level. If you’re returning from a career break and want to position yourself as a mid to senior level executive, focus on describing achievements or challenges overcome that are commensurate with that level of seniority. Your words should be highlighting your impact in areas such as leading teams and projects, strategic planning, performance improvement or mentoring and coaching. 

Keyword research is also useful for spotting gaps in your experience. If you come across keywords or skills that you don’t have, maybe you could enrol on a course or complete some online learning. Then you can include your continuous learning in your LinkedIn profile. 

3.    Sprinkle keywords liberally but don’t over-egg it

It’s a real turn-off to “keyword-stuff” your profile in an obvious way so it reads like a list of random words. Instead, sprinkle the keywords throughout your profile in a more natural and conversational way. 

Many people make the big mistake of not completing all the sections. The About section is frequently left blank and the Experience section is often just a list of job titles and dates. That’s a huge missed opportunity to make a great, keyword-rich pitch with an accomplishment-oriented narrative. 

Another area where you can include keywords is in the additional sections, which you can add to your LinkedIn Profile. If you have worked on Projects, you can include a short synopsis of the project with associated keywords. If you’ve done Volunteer work, you can add a short description with keywords there as well. 

Don’t forget your Skills section. LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills. People aren’t always consistent when searching and the same skill may be described in several different ways, so use different permutations of skills. 

For example, if you’re a Marketing Manager, you can add “Marketing," “Marketing Management,” “Marketing Strategy,” and so forth to your skills list. It might feel repetitive but it will improve your odds of being found. You can never be 100% sure of what someone might type into a search bar.

4.    Have keyword-rich headlines and job titles

The headline (right below your picture) is a major factor in LinkedIn’s search algorithm. Try to use as many of the available 120 characters as possible. And, make those words count.

You can’t afford to be vague here. For example, I often see headlines that say something like “I help companies grow.” That sounds friendly, but if a recruiter is searching for a Chief Operating Officer, it won’t show up in their search. 

You can also add keywords to job titles to describe what you did. Recruiters often search based on the current job title field so try not to leave this blank. If you’re on a career break, you can add a consultancy, freelance or voluntary role.

Weaving keywords into your LinkedIn profile will help you get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. But, it’s important to use them in a natural and engaging way. Remember, LinkedIn profile writing is very different to your CV. It’s less formal, more conversational and it shouldn’t be static, so keep it fresh with regular updates and postings (and remember to use keywords in those as well).

City CV have spent years as recruiters searching for candidates just like you through the use of keywords and another decade perfecting the art of writing keyword optimised CVs and LinkedIn profile that get results. If you would like City CV to help with yours, then please get in touch.