It’s almost impossible to talk about job-hunting now without talking about LinkedIn. The social network has become the place to look for a job and connect with recruiters.
Not only are many jobs posted on the site, but most recruiters use LinkedIn to actively hunt for job candidates. According to Jobvite 2016 Recruiter Nation Report, 87% of recruiters prefer to use LinkedIn as part of their hiring vetting process; meanwhile, just 55% use Facebook and 47% use Twitter.
And exactly what do recruiters look for on LinkedIn? 74% of recruiters want to see the length of your average job tenure; 57% want to see the length of time you’ve been with your current employer; and 34% want to see your mutual connections.
But that’s only a small part of it. Here’s what else you can (and should) do to increase your odds of getting noticed on LinkedIn.
1. Use a Professional-looking Photo
Next to your headline, your photo is the first thing that recruiters will notice about you. So forget the selfies, vacation photos and bar photos. If you want to be taken seriously on LinkedIn, you’ve got to look the part. And that means having a professional-looking photo.
Don’t have one? Get dressed up in professional attire and hold a photo shoot with a family member or friend. And take the photos against a white (or blank) wall so as to maximize professionalism and limit distraction.
2. Be Consistent
Are all your employment dates the same as your resume? Do the job titles match one another? Make sure that your LinkedIn profile matches what’s on your resume. Otherwise, a recruiter might question your credibility or attention to detail.
3. Craft the Perfect Headline
Now is not the time to be witty. It’s even been proven that having a standard job title instead of a clever one “makes you 45% more likely to be messaged by a recruiter.”
So make sure that your headline is clear and specific. If it’s not a position that you will find anywhere else on the web, then you probably want to change it. For instance, instead of “Superstar Software Engineer,” just stick to “Software Engineer.” Instead of a headline like “Marketing Professional,” which is super vague, change it to “SEO Marketing Specialist” or “Content Marketing Specialist.”
And never put “Seeking New Opportunities” as your headline. As former recruiter, Simon Gray, notes, this is “…a wasted opportunity and communicates nothing of relevance to an executive recruiter, employer or anyone else for that matter.” The problem is that this headline doesn’t use any keywords that a recruiter might search for. And even if a recruiter does stumble upon your profile, that headline doesn’t convey your value in any way. It also makes you seem a bit desperate, which is never attractive—not in dating and not in job-hunting either.
In your summary, you can (and should) mention that you are looking for new opportunities, if that’s the case—just don’t advertise it in your headline. Instead, have your headline be the position that you are seeking.
4. Be Active on LinkedIn
Recruiters tend to gravitate towards active profiles. I know that, personally, I do the same. In the past, when moving to a new place, I’ve used the website Couchsurfing to connect with other travelers, expats and locals. When I see that someone hasn’t logged in in several months, I hesitate to contact that person because I figure that since they haven’t logged in in so long, they probably won’t respond. In similar fashion, recruiters will be more likely to contact you if they can tell that you are active on LinkedIn.
It’s also a good way to share your opinions on different matters. Post interesting articles or things that you’ve written…join industry-related groups and comment on posts in those groups…follow industry leaders…check your news feed regularly and comment on and share articles that other people or companies post…engage.
5. Complete Your Profile
Who do you think a recruiter is more likely to contact? Someone who has only filled out the basic information on their profile or someone who tells their entire career story from start to finish?
Think about it: If a recruiter sees an empty profile, how are they supposed to know whether or not that person is qualified? They are much more likely to contact someone who they know is qualified versus someone who may or may not be qualified.
Sure, it takes time to fill out a profile—but the end results are sure to make it well worth your time. And the good news is that LinkedIn makes this pretty easy for you too. You’ll see that at the top of your profile, they are continuously encouraging you to do things to strengthen your profile.
6. Show Off Your Work
Think of LinkedIn as an online portfolio where you can showcase all of your best work. Add blog posts that you’ve written, presentations you’ve created and projects you’ve worked on…upload a video of yourself. Get creative!
7. Have a Bullet Summary
Your summary, at the top of your profile, is where you should be, you guessed it, summarizing your experience, background and what types of opportunities you’re looking for. Be as specific as possible…the more niche you are, the better. For instance, don’t just say that you are looking for social media management roles…say that you are looking for social media management roles at financial service companies. Don’t just say that you are looking for SEO marketing positions…say that you are looking for SEO marketing positions at small, start-up companies.
If you don’t have a lot of experience, your summary might be very short and you might not even need a bullet summary. But if you have a great deal of experience, use bullet points to communicate your message.
8. Highlight Your Success Stories
If there’s any place to brag about yourself, here is it. Just like your resume, you should use your LinkedIn profile to share little stories that illustrate your skill set and experience. Recruiters don’t care about what you do (or did) on a day-to-day basis; they care about the results that came from your efforts.
Instead of a bullet point like “Wrote company newsletters,” mention the results that came from your efforts, like “Increased conversions by 20% with targeted email marketing campaigns.”
9. Use a Cover Photo
Many users (if not most) don’t take advantage of the cover photo on LinkedIn (myself included at the moment…guilty as charged), and that’s a lost opportunity. So all the more reason to use one!
Find a memorable, eye-catching image that conveys the professional message that you’d like to send to recruiters. If you’re seeking a position with a non-profit, you could use a cover photo that showcases your volunteer experience. Or if you want to show how you’re a team player, you could use a photo that demonstrates that.
Catching a recruiter’s attention on LinkedIn is by no means easy. But if you follow these tips, you’ll be far more likely to do so—and you’ll be that much closer to landing the job of your dreams.