If you’re wondering how an optimized LinkedIn profile will help you in your job search, the answer is simple: Your profile needs to be found by hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, and human resources reps). These people cannot find your profile unless you utilize search engine optimization.
Hiring authorities approach LinkedIn similarly to the way they approach their applicant tracking systems (ATSs). They search the site for certain keywords denoting titles and areas of expertise. To be found, you must show up in the first 4-6 pages of search results, lest you be overlooked.
Let’s consider the following scenario: A hiring authority is searching for a finance manager with expertise in data analysis, advising senior managers on how to maximize profits, business analysis, forecasting, supervising employees who perform financial reporting, and legal compliance. A Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is preferred, although not required.
If a given finance manager wants to be found by the hiring authority in this scenario, their LinkedIn profile must contain their title and area of expertise. Furthermore, this information must be listed in all areas of the finance manager’s profile in order to maximize their chance of being found. This information can be worked into the finance manager’s profile through the use of keywords.
Areas on Your Profile Where Keywords Count
1. Your Name
This area is valuable real estate, as it is weighed heavily in searches. Any certifications or degrees you hold should be included alongside your name, as they will indicate your experience and expertise. So, our finance manager would list their education, “MBA,” after their name.
2. The Headline
This area should be rich with keywords, and it should brand you for your occupation and industry. This area is also weighed heavily in searches.
Using our financial manager as an example, their headline would read as:
Finance Manager ~ Data Analysis | Business Analysis | Forecasting | Legal Compliance | Maximizing Profits | MBA
Note that you only have 120 characters – including spaces – to work with in your headline. The above example uses 113 characters.
3. The Summary
Your summary should not be brief. Writing a brief summary prevents you from including all the important keywords we’ve identified. In the case of our finance manager, they would want to repeat “finance manager” and the areas of expertise mentioned in the headline above as often as possible.
Note that you have 2,000 characters with which to work in your summary.
The experience section is often overlooked, which is a huge mistake. Each entry in the experience section contains two factors that need to be considered: the job title and the position description.
Our finance manager’s official title is “finance manager” at ABC Company. While this is an accurate title, it doesn’t show their full value. The finance manager should instead list a title similar to their headline. However, you only have 100 characters here, so you have to be more selective. Our finance manager’s title might read:
Finance Manager ~ Data Analysis | Business Analysis | Forecasting | Legal Compliance | MBA
Here, the phrase, “maximizing profits” was removed. “MBA” could be removed instead, but the designation is more important for our finance manager’s purposes.
While the position description must above all else show the candidate’s value by listing accomplishment statements with quantified results, it is also an area on your LinkedIn profile where you can utilize a great deal of space. You have 2,000 characters here to repeat your title and areas of expertise. Don’t squander them.
5. Education / Other Sections
The education and other sections are also in play. What many people fail to realize is that they can add narratives to their education section. Yes, you’ll list your institution of learning and location (no dates of graduation), but you can also provide some background information.
Our finance manager might tell a story like this: “I fell in love with accounting and other areas of finance on my way to earning my MBA. Of particular interest to me were data and business analysis. I was given the opportunity to learn these skills during an internship at ABC company, which is where I am now employed.” Notice how this narrative employs the right keywords!
You can also benefit from keywords in the featured skills and endorsements sections. Your skills are counted, and some say the number of times you’re endorsed for them increases your ability to be found.
Other Considerations When Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile
Loading your profile with keywords isn’t going to be enough on its own. Being found by hiring authorities also depends on how many people you’re connected with, as well as who your connections are. In addition, engaging with your connections will increase your chances of being found.
For additional information on LinkedIn profile optimization, read “10 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Engagement in 2018″ and “5 Connections That Will Optimize Your LinkedIn Network in 2018.”
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.