Updated: 31 October 2012
This article's been written for anyone who'd like to boost the effectiveness of their job search on LinkedIn; and for those who'd like to increase the likelihood of a recruiter picking out their profile from the millions of others vying for their attention...
Let's get right down to business. If the recruiter contacts I talk to are anything to go by, there's something you as a candidate need to know about LinkedIn:
"Your best chance of securing a new role via LinkedIn is to focus on your profile being found and being compelling"
That's because recruiters are finding the most effective way to hire on LinkedIn is to track down and approach those they are interested in hiring, rather than to "post and pray" by advertising a job there.
Hence you need to ensure your profile is:
Let's look at each of these in turn...
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Job Search on LinkedIn: Tip 1 -- Make sure you are appearing in as many relevant recruiter searches as possible.
The key here is to ensure you have proactively thought about what recruiters in your industry might be searching for - and then to ensure that your profile is written in a way that includes these elements. There are two aspects to focus on here - the keywords in your profile itself and then the skills you include within the skills section of your profile (relatively new so lots of candidates have not even taken the time to complete this).
By way of example, if you're a social media manager it is not enough to have this in your job title and the responsibilities you hold to be referenced throughout your LinkedIn profile. Recruiters in this field could be searching for people with expertise on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Xing... Unless you have all these bases covered in your profile, you could fail to turn up as a search match for a role you would dearly have liked to secure. So in this instance, a social media manager would want to find a way - through bullet lists or an engaging piece of writing - to ensure that all these platforms are listed on their profile. In your field, you want to do something similar for the things that are most highly regarded or sought after in your profession.
Taking this simple step can produce exceptional results. Here's what happened these last months when I invested in doing this properly (albeit not for jobhunting purposes):
If you're lacking the creative juices to think this through for your sector - or you're just not confident enough you'll come up with the right answers - try finding a few job adverts for roles you'd be interested in and feel you'd be well qualified for. Now look through the job advert and see what is referenced in the requirements section. What skills is the employer looking for, what sector experience are they looking for, what micro-specialisms are referenced as nice-to-haves, etc. The more of these you are able to cover off in your profile, the more you'll show up in relevant recruiters' search results.
Job Search on LinkedIn: Tip 2 -- Make sure you present a snapshot that makes your target recruiters want to click through and find out more
Take a moment to do a people search on LinkedIn, one that brings you up as a search match. You should see a long list of profile matches appear - with yours looking something like mine:
Now keep in mind that this is the first information a recruiter sees about you when conducting their search. Does yours compel recruiters to click through and find out more, or is it bland (or worse still, lacking the key information needed to make a recruiter even consider clicking further)?
Compare and contrast:
"Sales Representative at Company X"
"Leading Outbound Sales Representative at Company X, consistent top biller 43% ahead of target"
The second of these does two things to increase the chances of your profile being clicked on by relevant recruiters. Instead of just listing a job title, we qualify the job by specifying that it is outbound sales calls being made. If that's the type of salesperson the recruiter is looking for, bingo! they are much more likely to click. Plus of course the wording around being a top performer instantly increases your credibility as a potential great hire. (Warning note: describing what you think you are, without facts backing this up, is not nearly as compelling - so back up with facts wherever you can).
Take a few moments on LinkedIn to search as if you were a recruiter looking to hire someone like you. Which of the snapshot profile results really make you want to click through and find out more about that candidate; and which look incomplete or uninspiring? Learn from the messages others are conveying in your industry (and role) and then model yours accordingly. You have a couple of lines of tagline you can play with here, so use them wisely!
Job Search on LinkedIn: Tip 3 -- Make sure you are showcasing yourself as a candidate when relevant recruiters do click through to read your full profile
So you've succeeded in having your profile appear in as many relevant recruiter searches as possible. You've also checked your LinkedIn snapshot and reworded this so that it encourages as many of these relevant recruiters as possible to click through and read your full profile.
Now you have relevant recruiters reading your profile, what is going to make it more likely that they go on to invite you in for interview?
First things first. Recruiters are time poor. So right at the outset we want the summary information they see at the top of your profile to do a great job of selling you as a candidate. This should be short and concise and should spell out to the recruiter your main selling points as a candidate. If done well, the recruiter will be sold on interviewing you by the time they finish reading the summary - reading the rest of your profile simply reassures them that what you've said in the career summary is true.
Secondly, other people's testimonials are often more compelling than your own descriptions of your talents. So do approach former colleagues, bosses, clients, etc. to request recommendations you can add to your profile (LinkedIn makes this incredibly easy, so there's really no excuse). The more senior the people providing the reference and / or the more well known the company they themselves work for, the more compelling the reference will be. With the new LinkedIn Endorsements feature, it's also worth listing those skills you think people will endorse you as having - and dropping those where you're unlikely to have people endorse you (as a lack of endorsements may just cast doubt on your credentials)
I touched on this above, but focus on facts not opinion. Facts allow recruiters to form their own opinion about your candidacy and where you might fit into their company. Facts also signal the claims that you really can back up with evidence. So many profiles are littered with statements like "a great team leader" or "a high performing salesperson" or "a top performer within the organisation'. To a recruiter these are just noise. Verifiable facts and achievements are what really convince recruiters that you are the real deal, particularly when published publicly on a site like LinkedIn.
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