Like it or not, we live in the age of optimization. We are at the mercy of algorithms, which determine whose online profile is most prominent. You have to optimize your online profiles if you want to get noticed.
Despite the complexity behind those algorithms, there are a few simple ways to improve your chances of being discovered online. Why does it matter if you’re discoverable? When employers are looking for employees, your profile will stand out. Additionally, other professionals in your field will engage with you. And so, your network will expand. That increases your chances of finding a job.
And that’s the goal: to find you a job. So, how do you do it?
First, we’ll discuss the power of keywords, both on your LinkedIn profile as well as in your résumé. Then we’ll explore some social media dos and don’ts. Finally, we’ll talk about what you can do offline to improve the efficiency of your online job search. By the end, you’ll have a much better idea of how to optimize your online presence so you can achieve professional success.
3 Keyword Quick Tips for LinkedIn
LinkedIn is perhaps the most important social media site for job seekers. Keywords are incredibly important in this platform. Recruiters use LinkedIn’s keyword search to find the most qualified employees. So, you need to include keywords on your LinkedIn so you are identified as a potential hire. How do you optimize your profile so you can find a job with the perfect company? It’s all about the details.
Be sure to include the following:
- Location. Don’t forget to include your location, and make sure it’s your current location. This is one of the most important keywords as many employers search for prospects in their area.
- Job title. Job titles are difficult to tackle. While you probably once held a very specific title, you don’t want to use it on your LinkedIn. Instead, use those 120 character to describe what you did in broader terms. If you were Vice President of Marketing, it’s better to say you are a SEO marketing expert or something along those lines. This title shows expertise in a particular skill, and it’s much less vague that the old title.
- Summary. You have 2,000 characters to play with when writing your LinkedIn summary. Pack in as many keywords as possible. Include all the terms relevant to your field and job experience. Again, this will increase the likelihood employers will find you – and want to hire you.
Following these tips is a great way to start optimizing your LinkedIn profile. You can do the first two in a matter of minutes. Keep in mind, however, there are other important sections on your profile. But before we move on, you may be asking what keywords to include. The next section will tell you where to find them – no matter your industry.
Where to Find Keywords
Now that you know how to use keywords, you need to know which words to use. Of course, the words you want to use will vary depending on your profession. Luckily, there are a few different ways for you to find the appropriate keywords. Below are three ways to find the perfect keywords for your profile.
- Search job postings. When a company is trying to find the ideal candidate, they include the skills and experience he or she must have. Scour job sites for the jobs that interest you. Cross-reference each posting. Then, pluck out the terms that keep popping up and plug them in somewhere on your profile. Now, when companies search LinkedIn for the ideal candidate, your name will show up.
- Check out company websites. Maybe you know where you want to work, or maybe there’s a company that’s a standout in your field. Either way, check out this company’s website. It will reveal what sort of language the company uses to describe what its employees do. You can echo this language on your LinkedIn and other online profiles.
- Look at other people’s LinkedIn profiles. Be sure to see what your colleagues – or competition – are putting on their LinkedIn profiles. Specifically, research the employees at your target companies. Try to identify standout profiles and snag their keywords. This practice has two benefits. Not only will you find keywords, but you’ll also learn about your industry’s job market.
So, be sure to check job postings, company websites and, perhaps most importantly, other LinkedIn profiles for keywords. Include the keywords you find in your job title and professional summary, just like we discussed in the previous section. But there are other parts of your LinkedIn profile too. Where else can you add keywords?
Optimize Your Profile With Accomplishments
Another section you won’t want to neglect is the Experience section. Of course, you should include your previous job titles and employers. But, more importantly, you need to include what you accomplished at those previous jobs. And guess what? This is the perfect place to pack in those keywords.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to write about your accomplishments. Let’s say you’re a marketer, and you want to describe a marketing research project. You wouldn’t want to write this:
- Worked on market research for previous employer.
Yikes! This is way too vague. There are hardly any details. “Marketing research” is probably a good keyword, but that’s all this statement has going for it. You might find more success if you write something like this:
- Implemented SurveyMonkey’s A/B split testing to poll customers from a list of CRM contacts, which increased email market research responses by 55% in two months.
That’s better. It’s okay if you aren’t familiar with all the marketing-specific language from this example. However, take notice of how this compares to the previous description. The second mentions specific software, techniques, terms, hard numbers and a specific period of time. The tools and technologies of your industry are especially crucial. Employers will be searching for people who know the tools of their trade.
And remember: List your accomplishments, with as many details you can fit, on your résumé as well. Speaking of which, let’s take a moment to discuss how keywords fit into your résumé and cover letter.
Keywords for Your Résumé and Cover Letter
Companies use applicant tracking software, or ATS, to find the résumés and cover letters with the most keywords. Those selected move further into the application process while everyone else is left waiting for a response. So, how do you get ATS’s attention?
First, the basics: Be sure to include your education. Write down your school’s name and your degree. ATS will look for terms like “bachelor’s degree” and your major will be a great keyword if you’re applying to jobs in a related field. There’s one more basic thing you must include. When applying to a job, be sure to list the company’s name in your résumé’s header and in the opening statement of your cover letter. It’ll be one of the keywords the company will look for, and it personalizes your application.
Next, scan your résumé to make sure if includes industry-specific keywords. It’s just like LinkedIn. Once you find industry- and company-specific words, there’s one more kind of keyword you’ll want to include: action verbs. Actions verbs convey that you’ve accomplished something. When you list your accomplishments in your résumé’s experience section, start your descriptions with an action verb. For example:
- Spearheaded an SEO audit of XYZ’s website with Google Analytics, which lead to a 50% increase in conversions over a six-week period.
This description works well for several reasons. For one, it uses industry-specific language and tools. It also started with a great action verb. “Spearhead” is powerful. It tells a story. It suggests leadership and confidence, all in one word. The internet is full of résumé action verb lists with words that’ll inject some zing into your application.
Now that you now which words work, I’ll let you know which words to avoid.
Avoid These Words!
Writing the wrong words can be detrimental to your chances of getting hired. If you do your research and add a bevy of great keywords to your résumé and cover letter, companies might still trash your application if you use the following words.
- Company Jargon. If you use technical language that only people from your old work would understand, the ATS will interpret it as gibberish. The trick is this: You have to translate your old company’s language into that of the hiring company. The ATS will be looking for that kind of language.
- Hyperbole. You don’t want to use words that sound too exaggerated. Don’t brag. No one likes a braggart. No one cares if you think you’re the best at something. The accomplishments you list under your experience should impress hiring managers by their own merit. Hiring managers don’t know you, and they aren’t naïve enough to trust a stranger’s opinion of his or herself.
- Fancy Titles. LinkedIn has a great article about the four words that can potentially kill any résumé. The four words are: Founder, CEO, Entrepreneur and Owner. Hiring managers might see these titles and think you’re unmanageable. As it says in the article, “You can’t manage someone who has been the boss.” However, if you do decide to stick with one of these titles, you should reinforce your ability to collaborate and effectively lead.
Of course, if you want to be hired into a leadership position, this advice may not apply. For the most part, however, you’ll want to change how you present your past positions. If you have been a founder or CEO, you might want to alter your title to something like General Manager. This title implies you have the skills, but won’t act too big for your britches in a non-leadership position.
Now you know what to say and what not to say on your résumé. I’ve mostly referred to résumés, but the same rules apply to your cover letter. A cover letter needs to be tailored to the job you are applying for which means that you need to embed keywords that compliment your experience in the context of the specific job description.
But the application process isn’t all about these two important documents. It your application makes it past the ATS, it reaches the hiring manager. What will the hiring manager do next?
Check you out on all of your social media.
Other Social Media Matters Too
While your focus should be on LinkedIn, don’t forget to polish your other social media accounts. Your social media is a reflection of who you are, and employers can easily find your various accounts. What it really comes down to is this: Be careful what you post! Once an employer finds you on LinkedIn (thanks to the tips above), they’ll check out your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t let them see something that makes you look unprofessional.
So, how do you optimize your social media? Let’s start with Twitter. You have 160 characters for your bio. Be sure to include your accomplishments and relevant key words. Make sure its accurate. When employers search for you on Google, your bio will appear under your twitter handle’s search result. Since your bio is so visible, you need to make sure it’s perfect.
Once your bio is done, start following other users. Twitter is all about who you follow. Ask yourself if you’re following people relevant to your field. Use key words to identify these people. If potential employers looked at everyone you’re following, would they see fellows from their field? Would they be following some of the same folks? It’s a good idea to follow the companies you’re interested in as well the heads of their human resources departments.
In addition to following the right people, you’ll want to tweet and retweet the right content. Of course, whatever you tweet should reflect your professional persona. And make use of keywords and hashtags. Hashtags make your tweets more visible, so employers might find your profile if you use relevant hashtags.
Facebook isn’t too dissimilar to Twitter. You’ll want to post industry-related content. What’s really important on Facebook is to engage with groups. Facebook groups that post and discuss your profession are a great place for you to emerge as a standout candidate for any related job. You might make some meaningful connections too.
No matter what social media you find yourself on, don’t post anything you might regret. Anything! Before you post, think about how it might impact your online image. Don’t badmouth any current or past employers. Don’t use profanity. Be conscientious about discussing sensitive subjects like politics and religion. Why risk your entire professional brand, and potentially future employment, for a joke and a couple of likes? What you post online can last forever. Be careful!
Offline Orders: Complete These Two Tasks!
Well, now that I’ve scared you straight, let me tell you of a few things you can do offline to improve your chances of success online. Job searches are obviously an online endeavor. Not many folks are reading their local paper to find their next gig. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do offline to optimize your job search.
Offline, you’ll want to set goals and track your job search’s progress. A good old Word doc is perfect for making a list of your goals. And, just like the accomplishment example, you’ll want to include as much specific information as possible for each of your goals. Having a list saved on your computer is helpful. It’ll make is easy to refer back to and adjust as you continue your job search.
Next, you’ll want to track where you’re submitting your résumé. Make a spreadsheet. For every job, create a column for the company’s name, the job title, résumé submission date, required skills and even a brief job description. You’ll also want to make sure you record if a company response to your application. If anyone gives you specific feedback, jot that down as well.
Tracking your progress with a spreadsheet is crucial for measuring how close you are to reaching your goals. Otherwise, your goals won’t be helpful. Optimization is all about achieving efficiency, and if you get organized offline, you’ll soon see how rapidly your online job search will develop. You’ll be applying to more companies in less time.
Why We Optimize
So, we’ve learned why we optimize our online presence: to find a job – and find it quick. Optimizing your LinkedIn and résumé with keywords is crucial. Keywords can even help you nail the interview. Posting good content on Facebook and Twitter is also helpful for alluring employers. A little offline optimization, as we discussed, speeds up your search even further. Of course, this all leads you to be able to better leverage and build your network. It also helps you craft your personal brand, both essential in finding a job.
Now, you’re ready to start optimizing. For more information, check out the rest of BD-PRo’s blog. Many of the articles expand upon what I’ve mentioned here. It never hurts to learn as much as you possibly can, and the rest of the blog is a great resource.
I’ll leave you with this: Remember: You are who you present yourself as online. Make sure they can find you – and that they like what they find.