Over 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn as a way to find new talent. When looking to vet potential candidates, they want to see a LinkedIn profile that stands out amongst the other 600 plus million people who regularly sign on to their account.
So if you’re looking to make a job or career change, optimizing your profile is a key first step. To that end, we talked to four experts about how you can optimize your LinkedIn page to get potential recruiters to notice you.
Use a professional profile picture
According to LinkedIn statistics, having a profile photo results in 21 times more profile views than not having one. “People are hiring people, and you need to be able to forge a personal connection online with the recruiter or hiring manager,” said Kyle Turk, hiring manager and VP of marketing at Keynote Search, an executive search and recruitment company. Portraits allow recruiters and company executives to relate to you and put a face to your brand as an employee.
Plus, Turk pointed out that profile pictures can be used to add personality and color to make your profile stand out and visually appealing. But before you click and upload your favorite shot, make sure you choose a professional photo that ensures that you look like an approachable leader.
“If you are a senior executive, you shouldn’t have an image where you are not smiling, arms crossed or look overly serious,” said Turk. “Culture plays an enormous factor when companies are considering new executives, so presenting an approachable and positive personality will go a long way,” he explained.
Spend time on your ‘about’ section and profile headline
When adding to your LinkedIn page, it can be easy to skip over the top of your profile, which includes the headline — the space right under your picture — and the ‘about’ section. But because these spaces are the first introduction that people might have of you when they discover you on LinkedIn, it’s crucial to maximize them. Not only that, these two areas play a significant role in the keyword search results that a recruiter might see when they’re searching for candidates, according to Brie Reynolds, a senior career coach at FlexJobs.
For the headline in particular, Reynolds said they see a lot of clients in their career coaching program who put their current job title and company name, but you can be more creative than that. “Put in several titles that best encapsulate what you do and what you’d like to do, or a job title and the industry you’d like to work in,” she explained. “It’s a quick way to show anyone who interacts with you on LinkedIn what you have to offer.”
If you’re an executive-level job seeker, Reynolds said that a headline that describes your strongest attributes as a high-level professional can work nicely — for example, “Transformational Operations and Logistics Leader” or “Change Manager and Senior Portfolio Director for National Nonprofits.” This allows you to make a clear value proposition to a potential hiring manager.
The ‘about’ section could include the size of the organizations, the teams you have led, the industries you want to work in, or the leadership philosophy you espouse, like inspirational/blue sky or player/coach.
Optimize your keywords
When headhunters get a new mandate to find candidates for a role, Turk said they typically have a desired persona and skill set they are actively searching for. “Most searches begin with keywords on LinkedIn to find candidates that match that profile,” he explained. So, to increase your chances of being found, make sure you’re adding keywords that are relevant to your skills on your profile.
Whether it’s in your summary or experience section, Turk said you should always optimize your profile to include these keywords. For example, if you are a senior marketing executive (CMO or VP), Turk said you would want to include these keywords in your profile: marketing strategy, marketing leadership, marketing operations, budget management, brand development, marketing analytics, marketing technology, data-driven decision maker.
“The idea is very similar to when people search on Google, they use keywords to find the most relevant page that matches what they’re looking for,” he added.
Build on your experience
One of the most common things Turk said he’s noticed on LinkedIn platforms is that a lot of people don’t build out their experience with details. “Do not simply list your company with no other information — it provides very little detail to the recruiter to know if you are a fit for the role,” he explained.
To remedy this, Turk suggested adding a sentence about what the company you work or worked for does to bring some context to your industry experience. Then, add another sentence or two about your role and responsibilities, but remember, when you are completing this section that it is not a resume, it is more of a teaser to qualify you for further consideration. “Provide additional information as to the scope of your role and achievements that will qualify you for the roles you are seeking,” he explained.
Finally, your experience section is also an excellent place to input keywords to be found by executive recruiters or add media, such as videos of you talking or presenting to showcase your work and make your profile more appealing (videos, blogs, awards, etc.).
Ask for recommendations
Recommendations, or real-time testimonials, provide references for your work, skill set, and your personal qualities. “Things like hard-working, positive attitude, genuine, leadership style and more may not shine through the other sections of your profile,” said Turk. To provide more context to who you are and how you work, he said to have others do the talking for you by asking for recommendations from your managers, co-workers, or other professionals in your area of expertise.
Stand out in your opening paragraph
In addition to placing select keywords throughout your LinkedIn page, another way to stand out, said Bill Humphreys, senior marketing manager and a specialist in niche tech recruitment for MRL Consulting Group, is to include key achievements in your opening paragraph. “For example, if you work in sales, this could be described as overachieving targets or projects you have completed,” he explained. It’s the first thing recruiters or hiring managers see when they land on your profile, so make it count!
Be specific with your word choice
Your LinkedIn account is not the time or place to draft a novel full of vague sentences that leave a recruiter scratching their head. In other words: be specific. “It’s tempting to put overly vague statements on LinkedIn (e.g., I am a healthcare disruptor) while employers are looking for specific, tangible skills (e.g., I analyze healthcare pricing data to achieve better profit margins at hospitals),” explained Catherine Shea, assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.
Sometimes by casting too wide a net, Shea said you are overlooked for someone who is more specific in their statements. Make the recruiters job easier by being more specific when describing your professional experience.
Spending time on your own profile will help you get noticed by recruiters, but if you want to be even more proactive, consider searching other users’ accounts. Shea said executive job seekers can do this by reverse-engineering LinkedIn.
“Find the person who has (or is hiring) for your dream job and work backward from their network to your network,” she explained. This might be six degrees of separation, but Shea said it would help you figure out how you are connected. “Cold emails are rarely successful, but if you’re able to get an introduction via a friend of a friend of a friend, chances of success are higher that you will get a response and traction in your request,” she added.