LinkedIn Search Results: Increase your chances of being found

Increase your chances of appearing in LinkedIn search results

What does it mean to “appear in LinkedIn search results”?

Recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn as a sourcing tool to find candidates to fill open roles. Jobseekers want to appear in their LinkedIn search results when someone is searching for their background or skillset or hiring for the job the jobseeker is targeting. Keywords are words that a recruiter or hiring manager uses to search for someone with your skill set. Choosing the right words to include in your LinkedIn profile is very important and could determine if you are considered for a position.

Screenshot of LinkedIn recruiter to show example of returned search results.
Screenshot of Recruiter Lite. Photo credit: Herohunt.ai

How do you identify the best keywords to use? This takes some intentional research time, but will pay off!

  1. The first thing I recommend doing is exploring target job descriptions or job postings for opportunities that are most attractive to you and your skill set. www.tagcrowd.com is a great website that lets you take an existing text (a job description, LinkedIn profile, webpage, etc) and determine the frequency of  certain phrases and words.
    • Career expert Dominic Imwalle suggests exploring the job descriptions of positions you are targeting, or details specific to the company you wish to work for. “I would take exact words from that description or specific company to see how I could incorporate them in my professional documents and outreach with the hiring team.”
  2. If you have a Premium subscription and the position is listed on LinkedIn, you can pull the job posting and look at the most common skills among other applicants. These are likely keywords that should be included on your profile.
Screenshot of keyword tool in LinkedIn

3. You can also review the profiles of your competitors to ensure you are not missing any important words.

Why are keywords important to LinkedIn searches?

For many people, blog writing is synonymous with SEO. Having an eye to search engine optimization matters on LinkedIn as well if you want to appear higher on recruiter search results. We’ve found that some blogging SEO-best practices can be applied to writing your own profile.

Keyword density is the number of times a specific keyword appears on a webpage compared to the total word count. Strong keyword density will help land you in LinkedIn search results.
text source: HubSpot

Keyword density is the amount of times a specific keyword is used compared to the total word count of a document. You can increase your job search results by maximizing your keyword usage. These are the words recruiters and hiring managers are searching for. Searched words need to be in a candidate’s profile in order for that person to appear in the search results.

According to HubSpot, a leader in SEO education, a blog post should feature the identified keyword or phrase at a 1% rate compared to total word count.

screenshot of LinkedIn comment from Jeff Young about the importance of keywords density.
Value of keyword density on LinkedIn

Many LinkedIn and career experts, including Roy Young and Beth Granger recommend using a word cloud generator to identify keywords. Granger says, “I love the idea of taking a job description and putting it into a word cloud to be able to see visually the importance of different terms, and then use those terms in your content.”

Where to include keywords on LinkedIn

LinkedIn gives you 2,600 character spaces for your About section. If HubSpot’s formula is applied here, this would suggest a keyword would appear 4-6x in the About section alone. In my opinion, having your keyword or phrase listed 4-6x in the About section would be obnoxious and overkill. So what is the correct frequency that should be used?

- In the header
- 2-3x in the About section
- 3-5x as one of the 5 highlighted skills in your job section
- 1-2x in the featured section
- 1x in the skills section at the bottom
- Perhaps 1x in the volunteer section
Briefcase Coach suggests your identified keyword or phrases appear 9-10 times in your LinkedIn profile.

When creating LinkedIn profiles, I strive to have the keyword or phrase used across the ENTIRE profile at least 9 times:

– In the header
– 2-3x in the About section
– 3-5x as one of the 5 highlighted skills in your job section
– 1-2x in the featured section
– 1x in the skills section at the bottom
– Perhaps 1x in the volunteer section

Human Resources professional, Erika Hayes, put this into practice recently and began seeing immediate results. “I updated my headline to include my overall skill set & different titles. I began to see more hits in searches and connecting more with others in those same fields and same skill set.”

Optimize your Headline & About sections

Headlines and About sections are an important place to include keywords. Keywords will increase your chances of showing in searches on LinkedIn. These are both narratives that can tell someone a lot about you as a person and an employee.

For example:
Let’s say you are 15 years into your career and your actual job title is Sr. Director of Finance.

Instead of writing just Senior Director of Finance for your headline, think about your value proposition. Think about showcasing the value you add to the finance team. Also, align keywords for roles you want to position yourself for in the future.

In this example, let’s say your future job target is to be Head of FP&A for a F500 company. You need to include FP&A in your LinkedIn headline.

Your headline could instead be:
Finance Leader I Corporate Finance Transformation I Reporting Analytics FP&A I Data Management

LinkedIn search results obtained from using strong keywords.

Danielle’s headline showcases this well. This is how she is shown in my search results for FP&A. If she had only mentioned Finance Manager, her current job title, she would likely be passed over for her target role in FP&A. A recruiter would have to open her profile and dig deep to realize she had FP&A experience. As such, this is unlikely to happen.

The difference in a strong LinkedIn Headline

It is important to understand that if someone is not your direct connection on LinkedIn, they are not able to view your entire profile. Focus on ensuring the information that is public facing is relevant and contains keywords. This will increase your chances of being noticed and contacted when you do show in LinkedIn search results.

Your LinkedIn Headline appears under your name and is visible to everyone whether they are your connection or not. LinkedIn shows the headline in LinkedIn search results, “People You May Know” section, LinkedIn job applications, posts, messages, recommendations, and even invitations to connect.

220 Characters. That is the limit in a LinkedIn headline. It is important to make this space count. Headlines can be used to showcase your skills, experience and goals. Strategic use of keywords can increase your chances of landing in optimal search results.

Let’s look at some examples:

Headline sample that uses strategic keywords to help increase chances of landing in LinkedIn search results.

Meghan uses strategic keywords to showcase her skill set and credentials. She makes it clear what her current position is and aligns herself for positions targeting AI professionals, SaaS and CX experience or implementation experience. Based on her headline, her profile would show up in LinkedIn search results for a recruiter searching these keywords.

Headline sample of a headline that is too short and provides little to no information about the person.

In contrast, the headline above leaves a lot unsaid. Who does he lead? What are his marketable skills? What type of industry is he in? His headline is 11 characters long – that is 192 characters that are not being used. Based on his headline (not taking into account the remainder of his profile), he would not show up in search results.

Increase search results with strong keyword usage

Landing in LinkedIn search results is helpful, but you want to make sure they are producing meaningful outreach. Using the right keywords in your headline, about section and profile can help. As mentioned above, using your target job descriptions can help identify these keywords, there are also other tools available.

Quote from Anders Liu-Lindberg - 
"Make sure whatever you write that it reads naturally. It should be designed for humans."

While including keywords throughout your profile is important, it is also important to make sure it is readable and accurate.

LinkedIn features a Career Pivot tool. This is available to help job seekers wanting to change careers and pivot into a new role or industry. LinkedIn expert Kevin Turner walks users through the tool and how to maximize it’s benefits. He includes helpful information to help users understand the importance of “market value titles”. This includes which skills you should include on your LinkedIn profile.

Author

  • Sarah Johnston

    I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!) I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

Sarah Johnston

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