Essential Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Search
By Amy McDonnell
So, you have a LinkedIn profile. Uploaded a photo? Check. Approved the occasional new connection or two? Check. Filled out your job title, education, and a few skills? Check, check, and check. So why aren’t you getting any bites from recruiters?
It turns out that candidates who know the secrets to a fully optimized, can’t-pass-me-up LinkedIn profile are filling up recruiters’ and hiring managers’ search results. Not to worry—it’s by no means an exclusive club. By making these easy, effective tweaks, you can take your profile from zero to 100 in no time.
1. Get to the point. “A LinkedIn profile receives about six seconds of a recruiter’s ‘eyeball’ time,” says Lora Poepping, President of Plum Coaching & Consulting. “That means they want to know who you are you immediately.” It stands to reason that your headline section is an important area to optimize for recruiters to find you. It’s also meant to be quickly skimmed and sized up, so choose your words carefully.
Insider tip: Choose an attention-grabbing headline that states your title, and also drills further down into your expertise through keywords that define your profession or niche. “Your profile should have a header that tells me who you are, such as MARKETING MANAGER | DATA DRIVEN | TECHNOLOGY,” Poepping advises.
2. Use relevant keywords. Keywords are arguably the most important element of getting found by recruiters. Lynda Spiegel, founder of Rising Star Resumes, recommends that job seekers “use the Summary section — which affords you a 2,000-character space — to tell the story of your career and accomplishments, and embed as many of those keywords within your narration as possible.”
As Glen Cathey, founder of Boolean Black Belt, says on his blog, it’s important to first adopt the mindset of a recruiter who is looking for someone like you, and use the words they would use to conduct a search. “You have to make sure that what they can see in the listing of the search results, which includes at least your headline (basic view) and could also include your current and previous titles along with a few words (expanded or custom view), will entice them (i.e., appear relevant enough) to click on and view your profile, thus sending a note to LinkedIn’s algorithm that you are more relevant than profiles that were not clicked on and opened.”
Insider tip: Do your keyword research. “Add words that you’ve found on job postings. Recruiters use them when creating a search string and they are tied – married actually – to what they need in their candidate,” Poepping says.
3. Be open (but not that open). As Spiegel points out, “Arguably the worst thing you can do is write ‘open to new opportunities’ in your headline — it’s definitely NOT a term that any employer will search on.” LinkedIn provides an easy way to let recruiters know you are open to having them contact you, however. Under the “Job seeking preferences” section of your profile dashboard setting, select “Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities.”
This feature gives you the option to share your career goals and the types of companies and roles you’re most interested in with recruiters. Says Jessica Zeehandelar, Sr. Executive Recruiter at Artemis Consultants, “You will stand out to the recruiters as someone who will be likely to respond because you are actively looking.”
Insider tip: Spiegel suggests using #ONO in your headline, as a strategic way to signal that you’re open to new opportunities without wasting valuable space.
4. Cast a wider net. Whether you’re seeking new work or not, it is always a good idea to make quality connections on LinkedIn and expand your reach. And the icing on the networking cake? It’s also great for search results. If you have had a conversation with a recruiter or met a new acquaintance at a networking event, invite them to connect on LinkedIn with a short, personalized note.
Insider tip: “The more people you are connected to on LinkedIn, the more likely your profile will show up in a search because you’ll be a 1st or 2nd-degree connection,” says Zeehandelar.
5. Be specific. While you may really want to let the world know how passionate you are about your industry, warm and fuzzy (and, frankly, subjective) adjectives fall flat in the world of keyword searching on LinkedIn. As you would on your resume, include specific, measurable skills and accomplishments. Not only does this paint a more colorful picture of you as a potential employee, it also pushes you to use more relevant keywords and highlight your unique expertise and experience.
For someone in sales, for example, Zeehandelar says knowing which vertical they have experience selling into is important. “I’m working on a search for a client that is looking for a software sales professional who has experience selling into the hospitality vertical; specifically into hotels. When I conduct a search I look for someone who is selling SaaS or computer software and use the keywords ‘hospitality’ OR ‘hotels,’ and those are the profiles I’ll look at first.”
6. Complete your LinkedIn profile. While it may be tempting to skip over a few profile fields, less is not more on LinkedIn. As a rule of thumb, be sure to fill out your:
- background (work experience, education, and volunteer experience)
- accomplishments (publications, certifications, courses, etc.)
“Include any activities that you have been a part of while at school, or volunteer work. This is especially important for people fresh out of college with no work experience,” says Zeehandelar.
Insider tip: Set a calendar reminder to review your LinkedIn profile on a monthly basis to ensure it’s up to date and accurate, and that you’ve added any new certifications you have earned or volunteer opportunities you’ve taken on.
Start using these methods—and start getting found by the right recruiters—for the right jobs—right away.