Join J.T. O'Donnell for an in-depth discussion in this video Optimize your LinkedIn profile for recruiters, part of J.T. O'Donnell on Making Recruiters Come to You.
- So your LinkedIn profile is probably the single-most important tool you can use to attract recruiters today. That's because recruiters are on there, looking for you proactively. So if you have the right profile, optimized with the right keywords, you're going to show up in more searches. Now, I'm going to take you, top to bottom, through your LinkedIn profile, and show you exactly what you can do in each section to optimize it. And we're going to start at the top, because you know what? The top fold is the single most important part of your LinkedIn profile. That's where I, the recruiter, I'm going to spend six seconds taking a look and seeing if you're somebody that I want to read more about.
So there are three things in your top fold that are pretty darn important. The first thing is your photograph, and here's the good news. It doesn't have to be professionally done. You just need good lighting, a neutral backdrop, but the single most important thing you need in that picture is to be approachable. You need to look like somebody that I would want to reach out to, that I would want to work with, that I would want to present to the hiring manager. So, don't be serious, have a smile on your face, be yourself, be approachable. Now, your headline: this is a piece of prime real estate.
I cannot stress that enough, and let me explain why. When recruiters are searching for you inside that platform, and they're putting in keywords, the system is very much like the Internet. It's going through and looking at everyone's profiles and determining who has those keywords, how many times they have those keywords, and whether or not those keywords are in the headline. And guess what happens if you have the keywords in the headline? You improve the chances of moving up in the search results of that recruiter. So what should you do? Well, do your homework, for starters.
What kind of job are you looking for? What are the typical skill sets that everyone is looking for when it comes to your particular expertise? You can find those usually in the endorsement section at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile. You want to find the top five or six key skill sets that you most want to leverage in your next career, the ones that you know are in demand and that provide a lot of value, and you want to put them in your headline with a vertical line divider. That way, when I land on your profile and I see that smiling, engaging headshot, and I see that Headline, and I can quickly go check, check, check, check, check; hey, this person has all the skills I'm looking for, I'm going to click and I'm going to check you out.
I'm going to learn a lot more about you, and that's what we're trying to make happen there. Now, moving on to your Summary. Summary, by definition, means short. What I don't want to see is an epic, long novel. As a recruiter, I don't have time for that. I'm not going to read it. If you really know who you are as a business of one, then you should be able to explain to me in just a few sentences what value you bring. Roll up your experience and explain it to me. Give me the numbers, the facts and the figures, that really validate who you are. Entice me to want to keep reading.
So, keep that Summary short and engaging. Keep those keywords in mind as well, right? We want to think about something called density. It's probably a good point right now to explain the idea of keyword density to you, that concept of a keyword showing up multiple times throughout your profile, and the more you have them the better. If you've got them in the Headline and you've got them in the Summary, you're creating density. And we want to do that throughout your entire profile. Now, let's move on to your work history. It's very important that your work history and your resume mimic each other. Make sure that these always are the same, because recruiters are going to look at both documents, and if they see any discrepancies, they could get confused.
You want to keep your titles accurate, and at all costs, whenever you can, make sure that the company that you worked for, you're actually pulling that company in and getting the actual company logo next to your name in your work history. Why is that? Because recruiters are able to roll their mouse over that company and learn everything they need to know about that organization, which means you don't have to explain that in the work history. You can keep your bullet points about what you accomplished, and that's really important and I need you to understand that. Recruiters need you to be objective.
They need you to give them just the facts. They need to be able to read through and see what you've done. So think about the numbers, the stats, the percentages, the goals that you reached, those are the things that should be in your work history. Keep it clean and always tie it back to those key skill sets. If you were amazing in project management, how many projects have you managed? What size were those projects? How many people worked on those projects? Those are the kinds of things that I, as a recruiter, want to know about you. All right, moving past work history, we're going to get into all those additional great sections that LinkedIn has available to you, like Certifications, Education, Volunteering.
Should you fill these out? Of course you should, but don't go crazy. Stick to the facts, think about your keywords, and show me how you can continue to tie your value, that area of specialty of yours, to each of those segments, so that I'm continuing to read down and seeing continuity and consistency in who you are as a professional. So, moving on down the profile, let's talk about the Endorsement section, which actually happens to be one of my favorite sections. This is where you're able to emphasize the skill sets that you most want to be known for, the skills that you want to be found on by recruiters.
The first thing you should do is think about the 10 skill sets that are most important to you in your profession. These are the skill sets that you want to get the most amount of endorsements for, and here's why. As I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn works very similar to an Internet search, and so if you have 60 endorsements for project management, then that means 60 different people within your network endorsed you. That says something to a recruiter. It shows them just how active you are within your network. And so, by having those endorsements for those 10 key skill sets, you're going to statistically improve the chances that you show up in the search, but you're also going to validate to that recruiter that you have the skills that you say you have, because you're getting third-party credibility.
So make sure you take the time to edit the Endorsements section, and put the most important skill sets at the very top. Now, we're not done yet, because there's still some really valuable sections at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile. Of course, there's Influencers. Who are you following? We want to know what experts you're reading up on. Second, with Groups, what are you participating in? What industry organizations? What organizations involved in a particular skill set? I want to understand how you're learning and what you're doing. And then, lastly, and probably the most important, what companies are you following? This is where you actually create something called your Interview Bucket List, and this is all the companies that you would love to partner with someday.
And you should be following them and paying attention to them and seeing what they put into their feeds so that you can better understand them. I can tell you right now, a recruiter is going to see if you're following their company. They want to know just how serious you are about wanting to work for them. And if I'm a recruiter, and you show up in my search, and you have a great picture, a super headline, an incredible summary, very on-point work history, you're following great Influencers, you're part of great Groups, and you're following my company? I think the chances are pretty good that I might check you out.
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