It's officially 2019, have you found your dream job yet?
As a leader in the tech staffing industry, my best advice to job seekers is to use LinkedIn as a sales tool to land your dream job, and worry about your resume later...
When most people ask the question, “How do I start looking for a job?”, the first thing they’ll think of is to update their resume. Countless articles online are meant to prepare people for the job hunt, but they don’t mention the most relevant aspect of this process - your potential employer has most likely made up their mind about you even before you have a chance to interview, and it’s not because of your resume.
The way to impress employers in today’s job market is to have a LinkedIn profile with a strong personal brand, and a professional online persona. LinkedIn is not used to get a job, in the way that your resume is, LinkedIn should be viewed as a sales tool to get an interview. This involves curating your LinkedIn profile to showcase your strengths and what makes you stand out from the competition.
Who Are You Curating Your Profile For?
Think about this... If you want to land your dream job, whom from that company is looking at your LinkedIn profile? Your potential boss? Your potential boss’ boss? The person creating the budget? A peer of yours?... It’s actually none of the above, because those are not the people deciding who gets an interview.
Typically, when a position opens up within a company, leadership are not the ones going out to find potential candidates, it is the HR rep, internal recruiter or corporate recruiter that is going to find the person, and it’s going to be based on their LinkedIn profile. Yours needs to stand out.
At the time I’m writing this article, national unemployment is at 3.7% - there are more job openings than people looking for jobs - and LinkedIn has become the go-to recruiting tool for corporate recruiters. To impress a recruiter who is going through hundreds of profiles a day, yours must be maintained and kept up to date. This should not take hours and hours of work.
Try this, close your eyes and picture your future CTO at your dream job. Now, open your eyes. The person that you pictured is not the person you should be targeting with your LinkedIn profile. They are not the person who is looking at your LinkedIn to decide if you should get an interview, the HR rep, internal recruiter or corporate recruiter is.
Who Your LinkedIn Target ACTUALLY Is
After leadership has exhausted their current company’s internal promotions as well as their own personal network, they’ll start to lean on their internal HR team or the internal/corporate recruiters to have them seek out the perfect candidate.
What do we know about this person?
As of writing this, on LinkedIn there are close to 300,000 people in the U.S. with the title “recruiter” and about 25,000 of those are internal recruiters (People with the titles, “corporate recruiter”, “internal recruiter”, “hr recruiter”, or “human resources recruiter”)
The average salary for a recruiter in the US is about $60,000
Internal recruiters typically don’t make commission
The median age of an HR worker is 41.5
Compare this to who you thought about at the beginning of the article. This recruiter is drastically different from the CTO you probably pictured earlier, whose average age is 54, average pay is $236,689 and 90% of which are men.
Curate Your Profile for Your LinkedIn Target
The overall appearance of your profile should be clean, easy to read, and have high-quality images so that the corporate recruiter can have an understanding of your personality and experience quickly. They will be reading through many profiles every day, and you need to make sure yours is the one that they take a pause on, look at in depth, and make the decision to call for an interview.
The broad overview is that if your profile is aimed at the typical recruiter and not the CTO of a company, you should be focused on legibility, and be wary of:
Highly technical details
Although there are many recruiters who are experts in technology, it is important to remember that not all HR reps or internal/corporate recruiters are technical or experts in the industry of their employer; they are generalists. You do not want to alienate recruiters who don’t understand the technical details of your work. Your technical skills will be evaluated by the hiring manager after a recruiter has contacted you for an initial interview. Keep in mind that LinkedIn should be viewed as a sales tool to get an interview, so creating a LinkedIn profile that is specific but uncomplicated by details is what will land you an interview with your dream job.
The competitiveness of today’s job market can improve career options for job seekers, but it can also make it much more difficult to actually be found and called in for a job interview. In order to be contacted by a recruiter and get an interview, you need to help them find you. The best way to convince them that they should call your for an interview is with a really great LinkedIn Profile.
Recruiters Pay For Premium Search Engines To Find You
When recruiters are looking for talent on LinkedIn, many of them will utilize LinkedIn’s paid-for search tools, LinkedIn Recruiter or LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Think of these tools like Google on steroids. They are search engines within the LinkedIn platform that allow recruiters to filter through every single profile on LinkedIn, using keywords. Top recruiters use these to find LinkedIn profiles that have their ideal search criteria, and cut a list of millions of LinkedIn profiles down to a few hundred potential candidates.This means that no matter how good you look on your LinkedIn profile, if you don’t show up in these searches, recruiters won’t be able to find you.
How LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Work
Both LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Sales Navigator search with boolean filters that apply an exact keyword search to the different sections of a LinkedIn Profile.
This is what it looks like.
To build a good candidate pool, recruiters look at certain qualifications or criteria. What most of them focus on first are:
Keywords related to the job
If the information in these specific sections of your LinkedIn profile are out of date or have information that isn’t geared towards your current job search, you won’t even show up on a recruiter’s list or make the first cut.
What To Write In Your Title
Your title on LinkedIn does not have to have the same wording as your current title. LinkedIn is your professional social media page, not your resume. You need to keep in mind the following things:
Write it the way it is most commonly written
Reflect the work that you do
If possible, keep in mind the job you want
Often, people get hung up on what their title is within their company. However, it is essential to note that titles that are important internally, may not have the same recognition outside of your company. For this reason, it is best to simplify or generalize your title on LinkedIn to gear it towards recruiters.
Your title within your company might be “Python React Developer”, but if you have experience with other languages and want to market your wider skill set, “Backend Engineer” would be a broader title to get you called in for more interviews.
Location On LinkedIn
This is very basic, but make sure your location on LinkedIn is the same location that you’re looking for a job in. If you’re within commuting distance to a larger city, your location should be the greater area of that city, like “Greater New York City Area”. Writing this instead of the smaller town your work in will maximize the search area you will be found in.
If you’re looking to relocate, one of the simplest mistakes you can make is not updating your location to where you want to relocate to. You will not appear on a recruiter’s list unless your LinkedIn location is within that boundary they’re looking in, so be sure to keep your location current.
You’re at your desk and you answer a call from a recruiter for a job you’re overqualified for. Half an hour later, you’re called for another job, this one you're under-qualified for, as a result, the next time your phone rings, you send it right to voicemail. Everyday people are deleting hundreds of LinkedIn messages and InMails from lazy recruiters who think you may be looking for a new job, but are contacting you for the completely wrong opportunity. Why? Because your LinkedIn Profile is not optimized for the job you want.
Keyword Search Sensitivity
I have written about LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Sales Navigator previously. These tools are only able to search the exact match of a word. I want to show you how you may be overlooked for certain roles and found for others based on the keywords you use in your LinkedIn Profile.
Here, you can see a search that I did, trying to find myself. I only appear in the search if the keyword is “CEO”, not if it is written out as “Chief Executive Officer”.
The solution here is to be aware of titles, skills, certifications, etc. that can be written with either acronyms or full spellings. When possible, use both the acronym AND the written out form to maximize the number of searches you will appear in.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile With Keywords
Recruiters use LinkedIn’s internal search engines LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find candidates on LinkedIn. As I have explained previously, these internal search engines are able to look through every profile on LinkedIn that match the keywords recruiters use in their search criteria. Keywords are the most important terms related to your career experience such as:
Technologies you use
Words that express your skill level (manager, leader, growth)
Qualifications / Certifications
The keywords you use in your profile tell a story to the recruiters about who you are and what jobs you’re searching for. Recruiters don’t care about your exact internal title or the exact amount of months you worked at a job, they care more about what you did at the company you worked for, and what skills you have.
Having a LinkedIn profile that is optimized for the wrong keywords is lethal to your job search. However, if you use keywords effectively within your headline, summary and work experience, you will put yourself in the right recruiter’s search, and boost your LinkedIn profile to the top of their lists.
Using Keywords To Set Your Profile Apart
The keywords you use in your profile need to stand out to attract recruiters, rather than turning them off and repelling them by giving out too much information.
If you take a look at your LinkedIn profile right now, do you see any of these?
Paragraphs of details about the companies you’ve worked at
Bullet points about all of your previous jobs
Facts about projects
A fun anecdote or two
If you’re seeing these, this is not the way to impress a recruiter because they aren’t going to spend the time reading every line you write. If they can’t get the information they need within a few moments of skimming your profile, they will move on.
Decide on the keywords you want to use to market yourself on your LinkedIn profile. Anything that is not related to these keywords can be taken out. Remember that your LinkedIn Profile should be used as a sales tool to get an interview, and using this mindset, write a short headline and summary that utilize your keywords, and only if absolutely necessary, you can add a quick sentence or two to your jobs within your work experience.
Think about the technologies or skills that you use the most within your current position.
What words associated with your current skills, projects, and job experiences will get you on the list of the recruiter at your dream job?
When you’re gearing your profile towards your job search, it’s also useful to consider what skill sets or experiences will recruiters want to see in their dream candidate. If you can identify the keywords associated with the next job you want, and they are true to your work experience, these will be the most impactful keywords you can use.
Prepping yourself for an interview is incredibly stressful, you're worried about many things; a history of job hopping, previous company’s reputation, gaps in employment, but I’m here to tell you that those worries don’t matter. When you’re looking for a new job, the number of jobs you’ve already had doesn’t matter. The number of times you’ve changed industries doesn’t matter. The number of times you’ve moved locations doesn’t matter. What does matter is how you use the story of your career to get an interview for your dream job.
Throughout the series Syfter on LinkedIn, I’ve been revealing the secrets of staffing, detailing how recruiters find candidates on LinkedIn. However, all of the components I’ve written about can’t help you unless you can bring them together to curate your professional story.
Your professional story is the history of your career along with your professional personality that you have been working to create on LinkedIn. Recruiters rely on how you sell yourself on your LinkedIn profile to decide if you will be a good fit for a company or not.
What Is Your Story
Curating your story is all about what you choose to emphasize or de-emphasize to convince a recruiter that they should call you. The choices you make should tell the recruiter about your career up until this point and where you are going next. Your story should feed into the goal of playing up your strengths that suit the skill sets needed for your dream job.
Creating a story that will emphasize where you’re going in your career is dependent on how you detail your work experience. Looking at your previous titles and companies on your LinkedIn profile, what sort of story do you see?
Now, imagine you are an internal recruiter looking at my profile, and what story does it tell you?
Everything on my profile is filled out, but remains minimal so the emphasis is on the progression of my actual career. I’ve moved up quickly from an individual contributor to the CEO of my own company within the sales and staffing industries. My activity, endorsements, recommendations and interests, all support my story with related content.
Whatever your career has been, your experience should show a succinct story. Small changes like re-wording your title, or adding a small description of your work can point to why you made the moves you’ve made, and how they’ve enhanced your career.
If there is something that you don’t like as much, such as a gap in employment, don’t think you can fool a recruiter by cutting it out of your history. If there is anything left unsaid about a gap - or anything that may be negative - recruiters will assume the worst. Instead, be open and address the gap, recruiters appreciate honesty and will have more trust in you.
A good way to understand how you measure up to your dream job - and what recruiters will be searching for - is to find a job description of the position you want. Within this description, you’ll be able to find requirements, nice-to-haves, and keywords that you can fit into your profile if you have them. When recruiters create search lists using LinkedIn Recruiter or LinkedIn Sales Navigator, they will mostly be using the same information that is found on a job description.
Use What Works
Throughout my previous articles, I have broken down why recruiters use LinkedIn, who the recruiters are, LinkedIn’s embedded search tools, and how to use keywords in your profile. I want to pull together the most important takeaways here, keeping in mind that LinkedIn should be viewed as a sales tool to get an interview:
Most recruiters won’t reach out for your resume if they don’t like your LinkedIn profile
Most people design their LinkedIn for who they imagine is the CTO, but in reality, the people viewing your profile are recruiters and HR
Your profile should utilize keywords related to the job you want
Use multiple variations on the same word to appear in more searches - VP and Vice President, CTO and Chief Technology Officer
Clean Up Your Profile
The details of your profile will make a huge difference in overall appearance and completeness. Recruiters are seeing thousands of profiles that they may narrow down to just 2 that could be considered identical in skill-set and experience. If one profile is complete, neat, professional, and has a good profile image, while the other is incomplete and messy, they will reach out to the person the better looking profile.
Every opportunity for an image or icon should be used; every company should have a logo, and your profile header should remain professional. It should go without saying, but spell check your profile, you don’t want to scare off a recruiter with a simple spelling mistake.
Take A Step Back
After you’ve finished cleaning up your profile and creating your story, take a step back and look at your profile on desktop and on mobile. See if it looks professional and is telling the story you want it to tell. Ask a colleague, friend, or a professional, to tell you what story they see. Keep these notes in mind whenever you update your profile or are looking to change positions.
I truly hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the world of recruiting in the series Syfter on LinkedIn. Take what you’ve read and apply it to your LinkedIn profile and see the difference it makes. And now that you have a killer LinkedIn profile - go get that dream job!
Original articles can be found on the Content tab of our website and on LinkedIn, here: