Use Keywords to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Blog Keywords 12

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?  If yes, you have a lot of company!  As the world’s largest professional networking site, LinkedIn has become the go-to place for jobs.  Companies post jobs, job-seekers search for openings, and recruiters seek good matches.  With hundreds of millions of members, that perfect match is just a matter of time, right?  Maybe.  I’ve been a LinkedIn member for many years, and my original profile was nothing more than an extension of my resume with a photo thrown in for good measure.  But when I decided to pursue a new job, I realized I needed to optimize my searchability and increase my exposure.  I want to share a few tips on one of the most powerful tools in the LinkedIn toolbox:  keywords.

Virtually everything on your LinkedIn profile is indexed and searchable.  Near the top of this index in ratings is your professional headline, which serves as your branding message and can be up to 120 spaces long.  The default headline is your current job.  In my previous profile, I had the generic “IT Teacher,” followed by my school name.  My first step in optimizing my profile was to expand my headline to “IT Teacher, Software Developer, Web Designer, and AI Enthusiast.”  By highlighting several of my technology-related roles and adding an interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), I increased my searchability in specialty areas where I have experience and an interest area I hope to pursue in the future.

Other LinkedIn areas where you can insert keywords are your Summary, Skills & Expertise, and Projects sections.  In my original profile, the Summary section included generic excerpts from my resume.  A re-write highlighted specific accomplishments while weaving keywords such as “Java” into the narrative.   I also added “Python” to my Skills and Expertise section, and included “Trello” and “Microsoft Project” keywords in Projects.

Keywords increase your LinkedIn profile exposure and help you get noticed.  For a more in-depth look at LinkedIn and other social media sites, visit the Walden University Career Services Center’s Networking and Branding tab and watch the webinar, Maximizing Social Media to Proactively Manage Your Career.  When you are in a pool of hundreds of millions of networkers and job seekers, optimizing your profile is critical to your overall LinkedIn strategy.  Keywords are a quick and effective way of upping your odds for that dream job!

Written by Martin Culberson, Walden DIT Student, Career Services Technology Graduate Assistant

Martin Culberson

Hands On Strategies for Reentering the Workforce

key with word "success"Have you been out of the workforce for a while due to a life event, layoff, or other reason?  Are you ready to return to work but not sure where to start?  Whether you are planning to return to the workforce after one year, five years, or even ten years, your #1 challenge is to close your employment gaps.  Start by taking an inventory of your existing knowledge and skills.  What do you have to offer potential employers?  What academic knowledge have you gained through your Walden program?  What new skills are you looking to build?  The Career Services Center website offers a Career Exploration area with self-assessments and industry research sites to help you identify your strengths and research employers.

Next, seek out strategic opportunities to cultivate new skills. Consider the following activities:

  1. Join a professional association in your target field and become actively involved. Activities may include volunteering at events, contributing articles to newsletters, taking on leadership roles, or serving on committees. Active involvement in a local chapter can help you connect with other professionals in your target field, gain current references, and apply your academic knowledge in a professional setting. Visit Career Services’ Resources by College, select your college, and view lists of professional associations to join!
  2. Find a volunteer opportunity that can help you sharpen your skills. Contribute to a nonprofit organization while supporting Walden’s social change mission.  Did you know that according to LinkedIn for Good, 41% of hiring managers consider volunteer work experience equally valuable as paid work experience?  Explore Career Services’ local and virtual volunteering sites and watch our webinar, Maximizing Career Success Through Strategic Volunteering, to identify the right opportunity for you!
  3. Create your own experiential opportunities through freelance, contract, or virtual employment. Do you know a small business owner who could benefit from your skills?  Is there a temporary agency in your area specializing in your target field?  What about researching virtual or flexible positions online?  Watch our webinar on Targeting Temporary, Virtual, or Contract Opportunities for out-of-the-box ideas on how to get started!

In addition to building new skills and experience, these strategies can help you gain current references and letters of recommendation, make new connections, stay up-to-date on trends, and strengthen your professional brand.  If you are not ready to return to full-time work right away, they can also help you test out the waters and decide which opportunities are right for you.

After you’ve gained experience through professional associations, volunteering, and other experiential opportunities, you will be ready to share your new skills with your networking connections and potential employers.  Visit the Career Services’ Resumes and CVs tab for videos and tips on how to enhance your application materials.  It’s never too early (or too late) to start taking steps to reach your career aspirations!

Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services

Webinar setup photo Dina

Eleven Tips from a Corporate Recruiter

Helpful Tips. Magnifying Glass on Old Paper.

My professional development plan includes attending monthly meetings of the professional organization, Career Planning & Adult Development (CPAD). I enjoy attending these early morning meetings the first Friday of the month and connecting with colleagues in the career development field. Last month’s CPAD speaker was a corporate recruiter who shared information on the hiring process from her perspective. Here is a summary of her advice for job seekers:

  • Focus on the requirements of the position and the company. Compare your resume to the job description, and show how you are an excellent fit.
  • Include your geographical location on your resume.
  • Include a cover letter that states the position of interest.
  • Referrals are “golden” so if you know someone at the organization, let them know you are applying for the position and ask for a recommendation.
  • LinkedIn and are [my] most common sources for applicants.
  • Check your “Junk” email. Important emails can go into your “Junk” folder, and by the time you see them, it may be too late.
  • Respond quickly, ideally within 4 hours; 24 hours is too long.
  • Every interaction with the recruiter is important.
  • Be prepared to verbally articulate how you are a good fit and your interest in the position.
  • Check back no more than once per week; email is best with a brief statement reminding the recruiter of your interest and your qualifications.
  • See the recruiter as a partner in the process.

Keep in mind that hiring managers expect recruiters to send them highly qualified candidates who fit the requirements of the job and culture of the organization, so the more you can show how you are an excellent fit, the higher the odds that your application will result in an interview.

For more information on career management and job search strategies, view Career Services’ Quick Start videos at

Written by Denise Pranke, Senior Career Services Advisor


Creative Networking Strategies for Landing a Field Experience Site

Jennifer Wisneski, a Walden PhD in Psychology ̶ Clinical Psychology student, landed a Field Experience site by connecting with a potential site supervisor through LinkedIn.  She is our guest blogger for this post.


Jennifer Wisneski


The Challenge of Finding a Practicum

As I completed my coursework for the Clinical Psychology PhD program and started working on my dissertation, I knew it was time to explore field experience requirements.  I started researching potential sites one year prior to securing a practicum and faced several challenges along the way.  In my small town, I found very few sites with a full-time psychologist to provide supervision.  Most psychologists I contacted worked in private practice or were close to retirement, neither willing to take on a student.  Other sites made it difficult to get past the clerical staff to speak directly to the psychology department.

With the increased need for mental health services, it was incredibly surprising to exhaust my list of prospective sites in a few short months.  I reached out to the Field Experience department at Walden, and they directed me to a website which manages a database of internships and allows students to apply for multiple opportunities.  To utilize the database search, I needed to create a profile and upload my resume.  After working for the same employer for the past nine years, I realized my resume was outdated.  I decided to contact Career Services for help.

3 Helpful Tips from Career Services

During my initial phone call with Career Services, I received a brief overview of available services and learned what to expect from career advising appointments.   The knowledge my career advisor managed to pack into the 45-minute session was well worth every minute!  Specifically, I gained the following three tips from my career advisor to help me in my Field Experience search:

  • First, I received many suggestions on how to improve my CV by using strong action words, being specific about my experience, and strengthening my accomplishments to showcase my level of professionalism in the human services field.
  • Second, my career advisor suggested I build a profile on LinkedIn. I was unsure about using LinkedIn, but I was willing to try anything to network while searching for a practicum site.  My career advisor taught me how to search for people in my field of interest using LinkedIn, which helped me make connections with potential site supervisors.
  • Third, I learned how to set up a career portfolio that I could bring with me to interviews. I developed a portfolio to showcase my accomplishments, professional interests, and samples of my work.

A Surprise Call from a New LinkedIn Connection

It was incredible how quickly opportunities opened up after a few sessions working with Career Services.  After I updated my CV and set up my LinkedIn profile, I started to connect with local professionals in the mental health field.  To my amazement, within days of establishing my profile, I received a phone call from one of my new contacts on LinkedIn.  She had just started in her role as Chief Psychologist at a local psychiatric hospital that week.  I had been trying to set up a practicum at this site for over a year with no success.  She told me the summary of my qualifications on my CV caught her attention.  Within two weeks, I met with her for an interview.  Referencing my portfolio during the interview made the process stress-free, and I secured the practicum position during the interview.

Ready for the Next Career Step

Having an updated CV, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile has allowed me to expand my professional network in many ways.  I interviewed with three other sites for practicum and now I have several sites to consider for internship.  This process has also improved my confidence and interviewing skills, and expanded my professional network.  In addition to establishing a plan to finish my field experience and graduate in 2018, I have a great outlook to the start of my professional career!

Written by Jennifer Wisneski, PhD in Psychology-Clinical Psychology student, Walden University. 


Nine Tips from a Higher Education Faculty Recruiter

Helpful Tips. Magnifying Glass on Old Paper.

If your career goal is to teach in higher education, we have advice for you directly from Andrea, a Senior Faculty Recruiter for Walden University. She has spent countless hours reviewing applications and searching for talented instructors to fill faculty positions.

Here is her advice:

  1. Apply for positions that match your academic credentials, experience, and career goals.
  2. Watch college or university websites for open positions. They often post on their own website before posting on the large job boards.
  3. Seek out programs that are growing or institutions adding new programs, for example, the recent growth in Nurse Practitioner programs.
  4. Keep in mind that an institution can often receive up to 150 applications for one open position depending on the requirements and candidate pool. To get an interview, you need to show that not only are you qualified but that you are one of the best-qualified applicants.
  5. Update your LinkedIn profile. Use keywords relevant to your field and experience. LinkedIn is the go-to tool for recruiters to search for talent.
  6. Have a clear, concise, and well-organized curriculum vita (CV). Use a traditional format with:
    • A short tailored summary showcasing your professional and research focus.
    • Your education section at or near the top of the document.
    • Your experience in chronological order with your most recent experience first.
    • Keywords relevant to your field; recruiters use applicant tracking systems to search large numbers of CVs for keywords related to the education, knowledge, experience, and skills required for a position.
    • Publications and professional presentations if you have them; these sections are important and will help you stand out from other applicants.
  7. Use the college or university’s applicant tracking system to apply and to check the status of your application. It is ok to reach out through email with questions or to let an internal contact know that you submitted an application, but keep emails to a minimum.
  8. Prepare for the interview well in advance.
    • The initial phone interview is intended to screen applicants for a fit with the organization’s culture and to check that the compensation is in line with the applicant’s expectations.
    • Prepare to give a short sample classroom presentation via video, Skype, or live as part of the interview process.
    • Prepare to discuss your academic and professional experience; include examples.
    • Share your enthusiasm for teaching.
  9. Be patient, the process can take months.

We thank Andrea for sharing her advice!

You can find more information about finding a position in higher education at Career Services Doctoral Resources  and view higher education job postings at Higher Education/Online Learning Job Opportunities page

Written by Denise Pranke, Senior Career Services Advisor


Tips on How to Impress a Field Experience Site

Are you a psychology, social work, or counseling student seeking a Field Experience site?  Wondering how to stand out from other applicants? sunshadesMitra is a PhD in Psychology–Clinical Psychology student who landed a practicum site at a Catholic school in California.  She is now working under supervision with adolescent girls who experience behavioral and mental health challenges.

How did Mitra maximize her chances of landing an interview?

Mitra started gearing up for her practicum search in February of 2016.  She contacted Career Services and worked extensively to update her CV and cover letter.  During this process, Mitra learned how to accentuate her skills, identify her target site’s needs, and determine the precise qualities potential sites were looking for in an intern.  These insights helped her communicate relevant skills and knowledge areas to employers.

Mitra then contacted her Field Experience Coordinator for a list of sites where other Walden students had completed internships or practica.  She also researched her local area, used job search aggregates and niche job banks, and referred to the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) website.  While visiting the California Psychological Association (CPA)’s job bank, she located lists of potential sites and shared leads with other Walden students living in California.  She found her current practicum through CPA and submitted an application.  After two months, she received a phone call inviting her to visit the site and complete additional paperwork.  Shortly after her visit, she was contacted for a face-to-face interview.

How did Mitra impress her practicum site?

Working with Career Services helped Mitra learn how to present herself with confidence during an interview, share stories of her accomplishments, and communicate the quality of her Walden education.  She impressed her interviewer by taking the time to research the site –its mission, client population, challenges, and employees.  She built a connection with her interviewer by focusing on a common interest – the prevention of human trafficking.  Since this site had not worked with Walden students before, Mitra shared talking points about Walden’s social change mission, global student population, academic residency requirements, projects and assignments, and the field experience process.  She made such a positive impression that her interviewer asked whether she could recommend other Walden students to their site!  Needless to say, her interviewer was very impressed with Mitra’s academic program, knowledge of psychology, and commitment to social change.  After Mitra returned home, she immediately followed up with a thank you letter and, shortly afterward, received an email hiring her for the position.  Mitra is looking forward to a challenging, yet rewarding, practicum experience.  We wish her luck on her journey!

Are you gearing up for a Field Experience search?  Visit Career Services’ Field Experience webinars page to gain insights for a productive search.

Seeking to build your Walden network?  Learn about upcoming Career Connections events.

 Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services


Preparation and a LinkedIn Connection Led to a Successful Job Search

Marianna, a Master of Public Health alumna, is convinced that both connections and preparation make the difference in a job search.

Building Connections

During her search for her practicum, she connected with the local Director of Emergency Management through LinkedIn. After communicating online, they met offline at a local coffee shop to further discuss her education and career goals. With his guidance and mentorship, she obtained a practicum at the Department of State Health Services.

After completing her master’s degree, Marianna started to apply for jobs in her field.  She “went over the job description with a fine tooth comb.”  She highlighted all of the qualifications and then matched them with her skills. Daily, she checked the job postings at her state’s Department of Health Services (her target organization and where she completed her practicum), but her applications didn’t result in an interview. While reflecting on what she could do differently, she realized that she needed to reach out to the connections she built through her practicum.

She reconnected with the Director of Emergency Management and with the Department of State Health Services internship coordinator whom she met during her practicum.  They both stepped in to help. She applied for a position as a Training Specialist III for the Cancer Registry Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch of the Department of State Health Services. This time, she got an interview!


Preparation was crucial during the interview. The interview involved a written test of 20 questions about the Cancer Registry, including questions about training methodology for adult learners. Following the written test, she was asked to verbally answer the same questions.  Next, they gave her the Cancer Registry manual and one hour to create a PowerPoint presentation and a flyer on the steps to record medical information and how to use the medical records software.  Marianna remained focused. She put her extensive preparation and her Walden education to work.  She reminded herself that she had created so many presentations during her master’s program that she could do this. She impressed the interview panel with her presentation and flyer.  A month and a half later she received the offer and accepted. She has an exciting job in her field!

Marianna shared the following advice:

  • Preparation is key, thoroughly research the organization
  • Google any unknown terms in the job description
  • Make sure that you meet the majority of the qualifications
  • Prepare to give examples of how you meet the required qualifications
  • Last, but not least, forge online and offline relationships in your field

We thank Marianna for sharing her story!

For more information on job search strategies, view the Career Services Job Search Support series in the Job Search/Career Management archived webinars.

Written by Career Advisor, Denise Pranke