Language that makes your LinkedIn profile pop

Articulating your unique brand with authenticity will set you apart.
By Teri Saylor

Whether you’re launching your career, climbing the professional ladder, or making a job change, the words and phrases you use and ways you express yourself on LinkedIn can boost your profile and make you stand out.

A key first step in this process is building and articulating your personal brand, said Carol Kaemmerer, branding coach and author of LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive. And to do this, try to avoid generic terms applicable to most CPAs, she said.

“There are a lot of CPAs in the world, and assigning simple magic words designed to make all of them stand out will do absolutely the opposite if everybody uses them,” Kaemmerer said.

Instead you must be authentic in communicating who you are, what sets you apart from the others, and the value you bring to your profession, she said.

Here are five ways to demonstrate your personal brand on LinkedIn and make your profile stand out.

Use valuable headline space to your advantage. Your headline, the text that appears below your name on your LinkedIn profile, is small but mighty. Merely inserting your job title or description of your profession is a waste of space, said Sandi Leyva, CPA, president and founder of Sandra L. Leyva Inc., a marketing and web design firm for CPAs, based in Carlsbad, Calif.

“I’d rather see something like a brief elevator speech or clear tagline describing your value proposition,” she said. An example might be “A CPA who enjoys helping small businesses grow,” she added.

Identify three top qualities you are known for. When you can articulate your three best attributes and the reasons your clients seek you out, that’s a powerful testimony and a great first step toward establishing your personal brand, Kaemmerer said.

You may be well known for your expertise in guiding small business owners, your financial forecasting abilities, or your great people skills. Make your LinkedIn profile memorable by listing these qualities in your headline, your “about” section and your skills section, she pointed out.

“This simple act gives you incredible power in terms of communicating who you are beyond your attention to detail and basic accounting skills,” she said.

Use appropriate keywords. Most employers today use automation to skim through résumés and they rely on search engines to match LinkedIn profiles with the jobs they are filling. While specific keywords will help search engines find your profile, that’s only the beginning, Kaemmerer said. “It is important to be authentic, so use keywords that you would naturally use to describe your area of interest and expertise,” she said.

Avoid generic words that would apply to all CPAs, and instead find words that will make you stand out and match you to the opportunities that are just right for you, she said.

“For example, if you have a passion for strategic planning and excel at it, be sure to include that phrase throughout your profile so potential clients or recruiters seeking an accounting professional adept at strategic planning will find you,” she said.

Include recommendations. Strategically crafted client or customer reviews and recommendations drive business decisions these days, Leyva said.

“When we conduct online searches for products or services, we look to see what kind of reviews a business has before potentially engaging with them,” she added.

An employer will ask for references before hiring you, and it helps to include a good number of powerfully worded recommendations on LinkedIn. When you choose recommendations and reviews for your LinkedIn profile, be sure to include those that use some of your keywords and highlight the qualities supporting your personal brand.

Highlight your achievements. In the section detailing work experience, most people list the responsibilities they had under their various jobs.

But rather than itemizing routine duties and assignments, Kaemmerer recommends listing your accomplishments, such as how you moved your firm toward greater profitability or the way you developed processes and procedures that led to greater efficiency.

“First, describe in two sentences the company you worked for and your job title to provide context,” she said. “And then use bullet points to outline what you achieved in those positions.”

Recruiters know that if you achieved great things in the past, you will continue to achieve great things in the future. Articulating your accomplishments will set you apart from other job applicants and make recruiters sit up and take notice.

Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, a JofA senior editor, at


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