How do you know which keywords you should be using in your LinkedIn profile and other social media profiles?

Everyone talks about keywords but how do you find them?

The keywords you want to use are those keywords that recruiters and hiring managers are using in LinkedIn and Google searches.

First, what are the keywords and keyword phrases your target companies, industries and/or profession are using today? These keywords and keyword phrases can change over time. You need to perform research on keywords on a regular basis.

The method I recommend is using word cloud tools like Wordle and Tagcrowd. Word cloud tools take all the text you enter and make a visual image with the words. The largest words are the ones that make a pretty picture from the text you enter. The most common words will appear larger in the picture.

Where do you get the text?

If you are looking for a job, cut and paste all of the text from a job description into the word cloud tool. Reduce the number of words to use in the word cloud to ten. You will now have a picture of the most common words that the company used. Good chance those are the most important words to that company.

Now you need to go back into the original text and search on how these words are used. What exact keyword phrases did the company use?

Watch this video to see a demonstration on how to find keywords in a job description.

Clearly, management was the most common word. The most common phrases were learning management system, and project management. Follow this same procedure on at least the top five words in each job description. Find at least five job descriptions for similar positions to see if there is a pattern within the industry.

You can use this same process on:

  • Corporate web pages
  • Marketing collateral
  • White Papers
  • Facebook pages
  • Corporate LinkedIn Pages and Posts

You are looking for the language that your target audience is using. You should come up with a list of keywords and keyword phrases that you can use in your LinkedIn profile and other social media platforms. Basically, you’re giving them exactly what they’re looking for!

How do you know your keywords are working?

If you buy the most inexpensive LinkedIn premium business plan, you will be able to see the search terms that users are using to find your profile. Often you can get the first 30 days free.

Seed the keyword phrases that the companies you’re interested in are using into your own your LinkedIn profile. Periodically, check LinkedIn to see if there is any change in the search terms that your profile is found with.

I recommend you to re-evaluate your keywords at least once a year. Make note of any shift in keywords that your target companies, industries and/or profession are using.

Have you looked for keywords before?  Have you looked for keyword phrases? 

Will you now?

How will you use keywords to manage your career?


Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Career Pivot was selected for the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at two successful Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.