min read

How to use keywords in LinkedIn Recruiter (2023)

A very small difference in how you write a keyword can entirely change your search results. Here's how to include keywords in your LinkedIn search.

July 25, 2021
Yuma Heymans
May 9, 2024

Almost every search engine uses keywords to find the best results for you. LinkedIn is no exception.

But many recruiters using the LinkedIn platform are not sure how to use keywords and what the impact can be to your search results of the slightest change to a keyword.

This example demonstrates how a minor difference in your keyword can have major impact on your search results:

Results for back-end engineer (with dash):

Results for backend engineer (without dash):

Just one little dash can multiply your search results with X25.

And this example is no exception.

Different ways of writing a keyword impact your daily searches on LinkedIn:

  • Using a dash or not (back end or back-end)
  • Using an abbreviation or a spelled out word (JS or JavaScript)
  • Using a word with many synonyms (Engineer can also be developer, coder or programmer)

These are just a few examples of how your keywords of choice can impact your search results.

LinkedIn is not a star at recognizing these different ways of writing so if you choose to use LinkedIn, read through this blog to find out how to use keywords in the right way. 

You can also choose to use a talent search engine like HeroHunt.ai that does take into account all the different ways of writing and possible synonyms of keywords.

Here’s an example:

HeroHunt.ai takes synonyms into account and automatically suggests keywords based on your job description.

If you do choose to work with LinkedIn, below are some things to take into account from a keywords perspective.

Keyword synonyms

Since LinkedIn does not cover all the synonyms of keywords that you include in your search, you have to build Boolean search strings with the synonyms included.

You can include synonyms by separating keywords with the ‘OR’ statement in the LinkedIn search bar.

Here are a couple of examples of search strings that you can include in the search bar in LinkedIn (Recruiter):

Engineer job title search string

Engineer OR Developer OR Programmer OR Engineering

Sales Development Representative (SDR) job title search string

“Sales Development Representative” OR “Sales Development Rep” OR SDR OR “Business Development Representative” OR “Business Development Rep” OR BDR OR “Business Development Executive” OR “Business Development Exec” OR “Sales Development Executive” OR “Sales Development Exec” OR “Inside Sales”

UI Designer job title search string

"UI Designer" OR "User Interaction Designer" OR "UX/UI Designer" OR "UI/UX Designer"

Here you can find a full glossary of job title synonyms.

See here how HeroHunt.ai does take synonyms into account.

This works the same for keywords that are not related to job title, like AWS OR Amazon Web Services OR Web Services.

Ways of writing keywords

There are many different ways of writing keywords depending on which language you use and which grammar guidelines you follow (or simply how you’re used to writing a word).

If a candidate profile will appear in your search results depends on if the candidate has mentioned the keyword in the same way as you have included the keyword in your search.

This is true with our previous example of ‘back-end’ vs ‘backend’ but also applies to all other keywords you’re using.

It is good practice to experiment with different ways of writing keywords and research candidate profiles by looking for your desired keywords in which variations of writing you can find on several candidate profiles.

When you know the different ways of writing those keywords you can include them in OR statements in your search or do different searches with the different ways of writing the keyword.

See here how HeroHunt.ai takes synonyms into account automatically.

Required versus non required keywords (AND and OR)

Using required or optional keywords has a major impact on your search results.

You can think about required keywords as keywords that have to be mentioned on a profile for the profile to appear on your search results.

Optional keywords are more flexible, they may or may not be on a profile that appears in your search results.

Required and optional keywords can be combined in a search string in the LinkedIn search bar. 

Required keywords are separated by either an AND statement Java AND AWS AND Backend or just a space Java AWS Backend.

Optional keywords are separated by either an OR statement Java OR AWS OR Backend.

Here’s a full example of a search string with both required and optional keywords:

AWS ECS Kubernetes Fargate (Grafana OR Kibana OR Cloudwatch) (Bash OR Python OR Ruby)

Make sure to only use keywords as required when they are absolutely necessary for your candidates.

The optional keywords work as a scoring mechanism. The more optional keywords a candidate has on their profile, the more likely they are to appear on top of your search results.

See here how HeroHunt.ai builds searches and ranks keywords automatically for you.

Alternative talent search engines to LinkedIn Recruiter

There are some good alternatives to using a paid version of LinkedIn like LinkedIn Recruiter or LinkedIn Recruiter Lite.

It’s good to know that almost all LinkedIn profiles are public and can also be found outside of the LinkedIn platform.

The most obvious alternative is Google but there are also more specialised talent search engines like HeroHunt.ai to find LinkedIn profiles and profiles from other platforms.


With Google you can find anything online. Google is basically the gateway to all online content. This is also the case for finding LinkedIn profiles.

Searching for candidate profiles using Google or other generic search engines is called X-raying.

Here’s a full guide on LinkedIn X-ray searches.


HeroHunt.ai is a more optimised search engine for finding talent. Where Google is made to find anything online, HeroHunt.ai is made for finding talent.

HeroHunt.ai can find any LinkedIn profile but also finds profiles from other platforms like GitHub and Stack Overflow as well.

In addition HeroHunt.ai provides:

  • Automatic search based on your job description (no Boolean strings)
  • More information on actual skills
  • Contact details of candidates
  • Social media links
  • Auto generated personalised messages

You can try HeroHunt.ai for free here.

More content like this

Sign up and receive the best new tech recruiting content weekly.
Thank you! Fresh tech recruiting content coming your way 🧠
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Latest Articles

Candidates hired on autopilot

Get qualified and interested candidates in your mailbox with zero effort.

1 billion reach
Automated recruitment
Save 95% time