Two Professional Tips to Help Boost your LinkedIn Profile – Part I: Using Keywords

By Career Love

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What kind of LinkedIn profiles draw your attention? If you take a closer look at successful, memorable LinkedIn profiles, you’ll see that these members use a combination of great ideas and approaches to capture and hold your attention.

There’s no big mystery and no special, secret tricks to using these recommended ideas. The things that power users are doing are also things you should be doing at your level. So why not start borrowing the best ideas and find a way to integrate them into your own profile?

In part one of a two-part post, we’ll take a deeper dive into two professional tips to help you freshen up and modernize your LinkedIn profile. The first area we’ll look at is how to boost your headline and job title. Specifically, how the smart use of keywords can improve the impact of your headline and job title – plus improve the overall reach and ranking (SEO) of your LinkedIn profile. We’ll also look at three things you should avoid when creating your Linkedin profile content.

Enriching your LinkedIn profile headline and job title by using keywords

Your headline (also known as a tagline) is the first thing people see under your headshot photo. A great tip is to personalize your headline. You do this by incorporating your favourite keywords, popular terminology and jargon from your industry within the headline and ‘Current Position’ sub-headline. These keywords will best describe exactly what your area of specialization is and what you offer. We’re not talking about vague, meaningless words that anyone can use –adjectives such as ‘experienced’ or ‘out of the box thinker’ (more about avoiding such overused phrases below). We’re talking about using truly descriptive word combinations that reflect your area of specialization and branch of industry.

What Are Two Big Benefits of Using Targeted Keywords in an Intelligent Way?

Keyword Benefit #1: Your profile will become more SEO-friendly to people who search specifically for these keywords. Particularly outside of LinkedIn, your page will appear higher in the search engine rankings for specific keyword searches. This is important for letting the reader know exactly about your focus.

For example, if you’re a person who develops marketing strategies for consumer electronics, your headline and ‘Current Position’ should include things like naming some of the big brands you deal with, the regions of your marketing campaigns (Europe, international, USA), or other unique details such as the size (budgets) of your marketing campaigns. If your focus is on semi-conductor development, for instance, be sure to include it in your headline and job title.

For example, if you deal with a specific type of semi-conductor (e.g. intrinsic semi-conductors) and this is important to you, then you should use this industry-specific terminology in your headline, current job title and summary. Many people won’t bother to do this. If you do however, there are far better chances that you’ll appear higher in the search results when someone searches for an intrinsic semi-conductor specialist.

Be more specific for your ‘Current Title’

For your job title on LinkedIn, you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to the job title that’s listed on your resume. Your resume’s job title may not contain any keywords at all. It’s essential that you remedy this for your LinkedIn profile! How? You can add a few descriptive keywords (adjectives) to make the reader understand much more clearly what you do, or what you specialize in.

For example, you are a Sales Manager. On your resume, you’ve written ‘Sales Manager’ as your job title. Is this enough? No. What kind of a sales manager are you exactly? What products, areas, regions, specializations do you offer? A keyword or two that describes your sales management specialization always should appear in your LinkedIn job title.

As well, you should also specify your field or industry in your ‘Current Title’. Don’t just write ‘Position XYZ at ABC Inc.’, but use some descriptive extenders such as “Position XYZ at ABC Inc. Global Consumer Electronics”. Even if your company is well known within the industry - and you assume everyone knows what they produce – take a moment to add an extended description. By adding an industry description you’ll automatically be injecting a few more valuable keywords that may boost your profile. And your visitors will clearly see this information in the text block fields directly underneath your name and headshot.

Tweak your other job titles

It’s also wise to do this for the other job titles in the ‘Work Experience’ section. Take a few minutes to brainstorm how you can ‘extend’ the name of each job title. Also go over the job titles listed on your CV or resume to see whether they can be slightly optimized to more accurately reflect your role.

A LinkedIn profile revamp and resume / CV revamp go hand-in-hand. Of course you cannot and should not move too far away from the truth and inflate your position – but you definitely can be more precise in describing your role.

Adjust your profile settings for the search engines Remember that a boost to your visibility in Google or other search engines will work only as long as you’ve made your LinkedIn general profile available to the public (‘Profile Privacy - Edit your public profile – Customize your public profile’).

You can decide how much of your profile is available to non-LinkedIn members. For example, you can select your settings so that LinkedIn outsiders can only see your headline, job title and summary, but not your work experience or contacts.

Keyword Benefit #2: You’ll receive better search results and generate more eyeballs on your page within the LinkedIn community. Your profile can be found more easily by people searching for these particular keywords or specific industry terminology and jargon. Searchers can include recruiters, new people looking to connect and network, clients and suppliers looking to generating leads, or any other random ‘stumble-upons’ that may lead to something positive. Just adding a few keywords like ‘international’ and ‘strategy development’ to your ‘skill brick’ section (‘Featured Skills & Endorsements’) is not enough. It’s always more convincing and natural to weave these keywords into your Summary section texts. By using keywords right away in your headline, current job title and Summary section, these precious phrases describing your top features are not hidden away in other sections much further down the page.

The top of your LinkedIn profile is prime real estate

Why force your audience to dig, scroll and hunt for what they’re looking for? Some visitors are impatient: they may click away sooner if they don’t see special words jumping out at them. Just think of it as the front display window of a popular clothing store: the very latest, coolest, most elegant and eye-catching products are right up front and center, displayed on beautiful backdrops with flattering lighting. You don’t go searching in the backroom among the boxes, racks and plastic wrapping for this season’s highlights.

In other words, your headline and job title areas at the top of the page are considered ‘prime real estate’. This is a useful location to integrate your highlights and keywords wisely, keep your visitors on the page, generate curiosity and keep them reading more about you. Generate your own group of favourite keywords How do you begin finding great keywords for your headline? First, create a raw list and then select the very best ones. Brainstorm, go through your resume for inspiration, check out what other high impact LinkedIn profiles are using, search for keywords that are popular and compelling in your industry.

3 Things to Avoid When Crafting your LinkedIn Profile Content

If you’re updating your profile or you’re brainstorming new content to use in your headline and summary, it’s a good time to take stock of what you’ve written and make any necessary corrections. Here are a few things that you should avoid when developing your content and selecting your keywords and phrases.

Aspect #1: Beware of creating clichéed or empty descriptions of yourself. It’s impossible to stand out from the crowd if you merely copy like a parrot exactly what thousands / millions of other people are doing. Worse yet, you unknowingly copy what was innovative and popular five or ten years ago!

In crafting your profile, it’s highly recommendable to stay away from overused, clichéed phrases that have completely lost their impact on the current business market. You know, the usual suspects such as ‘dynamic’, ’team player’, ‘out of the box thinker’, ‘committed’ or ‘innovative’ - all expressions that have become completely meaningless without context and back-up evidence. Never just sprinkle these words into your headline or job title, because it makes you seem out of date and devoid of imagination – a parrot caught in a time warp.

For instance, it’s assumed that a modern job seeker who uses LinkedIn is also able to operate a Windows or Mac computer and use a program like Microsoft Office. You would never include something this banal in your headline. By equal measure, no savvy business reader needs to waste their energy on a vague headline claiming you’re a ‘committed professional in marketing ’ or ‘problem solver in IT’.

Aspect #2: Funky, cheesy titles are a no-go. It’s not advisable to latch onto humourous phrases that are intended to impart irony, lightheartedness, wit or ‘being cool’. Likewise, avoid using any funky terminology that attempts to inflate the importance of your role. I’m talking about things like calling yourself ‘Chief Troublemaker’ or ‘Chief Thought Provoker’, or giving yourself titles like ‘Marketing Ninja’, ‘1st Level Support Overlord’, or anything that includes words like demi-god, guru, wizard, magician, badass etc. Yes, people actually do use these phrases for their job titles, headlines and in their summaries.

You’ll see them used more often by startup employees or LinkedIn newbies than by seasoned individuals who work in established companies.

Don’t confuse startup with standup! The average business audience on LinkedIn doesn’t want to see any Facebook- style or standup comedy style humour on your business profiles. General rule of thumb: Don’t try to be funny or ironic.

Aspect #3: Keep your keywords and descriptions ‘strictly business’ Since LinkedIn is considered a ‘strictly business platform’, your front and center material and keywords (headline, current job title and Summary section) should not focus on your personal life or any hobbies, favourite eating habits, political or faith-related convictions etc. that aren’t relevant to your business audience. When would personal references be considered relevant on LinkedIn? If your business niche is something related to, for example, religion, health, fitness, food, children, hobbies, special interests etc., then by all means you can make reference to this area because it aligns with the interests of your target audience (e.g. you run a business that caters to a specific faith, interest group, a type of practitioner, niche consumer group).

You’ll sometimes see people who add these personal aspects to their profiles – I’ve seen some recruiters who do it – to make them seem more approachable, human and fun. This is a signal that they aren’t adverse to profiles that get more personal.

One benchmark: If your potential audience mentions personal aspects on their profiles, they may welcome it from you. Otherwise, as a regular LinkedIn user, it’s best to keep your headline and summary section neutral and business-like, with a focus on your business skills, talents and achievements that are relevant to the job market and environment you’re choosing to target.

Another benchmark test: If as a job applicant you wouldn’t include this kind of personal information on your resume or speak about it during an interview, then it’s not relevant and should be kept off your LinkedIn profile. Contrast this to Twitter bylines, for instance, and you’ll see profiles from business professionals (specialists and also generalists) who include the fact that they’re a husband, wife, proud parent, they love coffee, they love dogs, they practice a certain religion, they love a certain sport etc. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning this on other platforms, but it’s not encouraged in the LinkedIn world.

Of course, being strictly business doesn’t mean being boring or completely devoid of personality and creativity. The art of a great LinkedIn profile is to blend your business talents with a description of your ‘special sauce’ as a unique player on the market. There are ways to integrate your other interests, passions and social responsibility activities into LinkedIn sections other than the Summary or headline. Secondary information, like your personal contributions, supplementary interests and sideline activities can be intelligently integrated into sections such as Volunteer Work, Accomplishments (‘Projects’) and can be reflected in who you follow (‘Interests’) – and even through the visual media you include (a topic we’ll be covering in our next post).

Final Thoughts

Keyword takeaways:

Adding special, industry-specific, non-clichéed keywords will make your profile sound more unique and less like one of the ‘beige profiles’ out there on LinkedIn.

Another real benefit of using targeted keywords is that your profile will be found more easily by recruiters or anyone searching (on and off LinkedIn) for candidates who use these keyword combinations. When your keywords are optimized, your SEO will become automatically improved. Keywords should not just appear in your ‘Skills’ section, but should be integrated naturally in your headline and job title, as well as sprinkled throughout your summary, work experience and project sections.

When you take the time to go over your profile with a fine-toothed comb, you’ll see that there are many areas that you can make more specific. Getting targeted search results - whether for LinkedIn or Google - is always based on entering specific phrases and terminology. If you want your LinkedIn profile to be found for these specific terms, it’s essential that these terms are reflected in your profile beyond the ‘Featured Skills & Endorsements’ section.

In our next blog post, we’ll tackle a second pro tip in more detail: how to freshen up and modernize your LinkedIn profile by adding visual media. Specifically, how you can add multimedia files and links to improve the overall impact of your profile in order to attract and hold your audience’s curiosity.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CareerLove is a writing service for job applications and LinkedIn profiles that helps experienced professionals, career starters, freelancers and entrepreneurs communicate in a more original and unique way on the job market. Founder Astrid Schmidtchen helps people from around the world across all levels and industries. She welcomes your contact and feedback.

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