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Golden Guide Career Advice: Use Your (Key)Words

Golden Guide Career Advice: Use Your (Key)Words

Lydia Lazar

silhouetted figures walking down a hill at sunset

Golden Tip No. 14: When it Comes to Keywords, Copying Others is OK

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at—the answer may appear in a future post.

When completing an online profile, use keywords that can be found by the computer algorithms used by employers and recruiters. Copy the keywords used by those who have the job(s) you want!

Enhancing your online presence means more than merely making sure that employers will not find potentially damaging information about you. Everyone needs to proactively manage and enhance their personal digital brand as an ongoing component of building their professional reputation.


An important piece of that effort is to apply modern SEO (search engine optimization) strategy to your own online presence, which means using keywords as effectively as possible.

  • Use keywords in all online profiles and make sure that they are consistent with the keywords you are using in your resume(s).
  • Copy keywords from the profiles of people who have the job(s) you want—but make sure that the keywords do in fact apply to you. Don’t include as a keyword the name of a software program you don’t actually know anything about.

You are deliberately curating your digital identity and pursuing an ongoing personal social media campaign. Keep in mind that there is an extraordinary amount of online material out of your control, and that the technology and how to use it is rapidly evolving.

You don’t have to be super active on social media, and in fact, it’s a good idea to step back frequently to assess what you are doing, how it makes you feel and what you are achieving with your efforts. When you do go online, here are some tips:

  • Develop a consistent voice for all your online activity.
  • Use appropriate and professional images on all sites.
  • Join discussion groups that are topic-specific on sites such as LinkedIn and contribute professionally phrased comments.
  • Post resources like links to articles—if you have some published, link to yourself!
  • Use social media to expand your professional network by “liking” posts and following people, and by reaching out when appropriate to turn online connections into real-world friendships.

Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.