Do you really want to stuff up your LinkedIn profile?

by K B , updated on April 22, 2011

I have been working closely with corporate clients lately, optimizing their brand across social media. One of the services I offer is helping people hit the front page of LinkedIn searches. However I’ve noticed an annoying trend recently where people have stuffed their profiles full of key words – kind of like the early cowboy days of SEO.

Here’s an example of a stuffed profile.

Here’s another example:

And on the same profile:

If you are tempted to do this, think about this….

Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand – or your company’s brand as you represent it. Imagine if your company’s website looked like this. Imagine if your resume looked like this.

What’s the message that you are trying to get across?

Like a resume, the format and presentation of a LinkedIn profile needs to be easy on the eye, and readable.  You need to make an argument to hire you. There is no point hitting the top page of a LinkedIn search with your chosen key words, if the only thing these words spell out is confusion.

Key word stuffing makes you look like you’re desperate for attention. If we all do this it becomes a race to the bottom to get up to the top.

So let’s get back to basics with LinkedIn.

If you’re writing your profile, think about what you are looking for when you want to connect with or hire someone. Whenever I’ve searched for professionals in a particular field, I’ve looked for people who look like they know what they are talking about. I’ve looked at their experience. If I haven’t been able to get a handle on what someone’s done and who they’ve done it for because they’ve stuffed the first 10 experience sections full of key words, I’ve moved on.

I respond to an approachable summary, some solid recommendations, some sharing of ideas, and someone who is active in their industry groups. That tells me that this person’s interests, and that they are using technology to keep them abreast of the latest ideas in their field. That’s the type of professional I want to hire.

I don’t want to look at someone who looks like they’re shouting key words at me.

K B

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jorgen Sundberg April 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

Hehe, nice example Karalyn.

The trouble with keyword stuffing is that yes you will get better ranking in the short term but if people don’t take action after looking at your profile (invite, send message etc) the LinkedIn algorithm bumps you down the rankings. So if you’re making out to be God’s gift to social media and you aren’t Chris Brogan or similar, stuffing your profile with that many keywords will do more harm than good. Not to mention how it looks like a car crash to the eye!

Jane April 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Seriously? People do this … to THIS extent? “Car crash to the eye,” indeed! I can’t even imagine anyone clicking on a profile this and thinking, “I gotta interview this person”!

Dan Johnson April 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm

People who’d do this are openly saying, “I’m a slimeball who’ll use any subversive means to get your attention. But here’s why you should hire me…” I’d love to see everyone use use the “Flag” button LinkedIn offers to report this stuff and shut this down. Look for it in lower-right corner of the blue box on everyone’s profile.

karalyn April 28, 2011 at 3:46 am

Very funny, Dan. Maybe they should just have that in their headline!

Clarke Peters June 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

As a recruitment consultant the SAP profile looks pretty legitimate to me. If you are in that field you understand the acronyms and its takes a second to see what u are looking for. Looks like it is a specialist SAP recruitment agency and if a candidate or client saw that they would think – great – these guys cover all bases.

Matt July 14, 2011 at 3:41 am

Does any of this really matter?

Does any company (except recruiters) seriously recruit/research anyone one through a LI keyword search?

Or is having a LI profile just another “credential”?

karalyn July 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Hi Matt, I think it does matter. I use a key word search when I look out for people, for example speakers, PR people and social media experts. I also use LinkedIn for business development, so use key word searches there.

Jane July 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Hi, Matt: Yes, I agree with Karalyn that it does matter. I’m now in discussions with two potential employers who found me through LinkedIn! I’ve worked carefully on refining my profile over the past year or so, and feel that it represents me well.

Karalyn Brown (@InterviewIQ) (@InterviewIQ) August 13, 2011 at 6:10 am

#Linkedin Do not stuff your profile full of silly key words – http://ow.ly/60y9E

Karalyn Brown (@InterviewIQ) (@InterviewIQ) August 13, 2011 at 6:10 am

#Linkedin Do not stuff your profile full of silly key words – http://ow.ly/60y7V

Ronnie Ann (@WorkCoachCafe) August 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Yes yes and yes: RT @InterviewIQ Do not stuff your #Linkedin profile full of silly key words – http://t.co/7pe5ZiT

Psr Design (@DesignPsr) October 19, 2011 at 6:18 am

Do you really want to stuff up your LinkedIn profile? http://t.co/SPcg5SdY

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