11 LinkedIn Optimization Tips for Anyone Looking for a New Role
From focusing on your headline to making sure you update all relevant details, here are 11 answers to the question, “What are your most helpful tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile to make sure the right recruiters can find you?”
- Out-SEO Your Competition With Your Headline
- Engage On LinkedIn – Don’t Wait to Be Found
- Provide a Connecting Story
- Make the Right First Impression With Your Profile Photo
- Identify the Right Job Influencers and Decision Makers
- Create Your Shop Window to Sell You, the Job Seeker.
- Add Written Recommendations
- Include Updated Skills for Better Job Matching
- Don’t Forget to Add Rich Media On Your LinkedIn Profile
- Shift from Invisible to Visible
- Always Keep Your Profile Information Up-to-Date
Out-SEO Your Competition With Your Headline
The headline consistently holds the heaviest weight in the LinkedIn algorithm, and one has 220 characters (with spaces) available-use them all. “But my job title isn’t 220 characters!” True, but remember how recruiters find candidates.
They type the job title they have open, then add 3-5 keywords associated with that title to parse out candidates who do not have those criteria. Use keywords you feel recruiters would use in a search to find candidates like you, and add a couple of words that can differentiate you from others.
Also, spell out your title. For example, you are not a VP of IT; you are a Vice President of Information Technology (never use IT because recruiters cannot search using that term because T follows I in too many words, like my last name). Remember, you need to “out-SEO” your competition if you want to get found by recruiters.
Engage On LinkedIn – Don’t Wait to Be Found
Creating a LinkedIn profile is the start of a job search, but don’t wait for recruiters to find you from your profile. Create your own content and engage with others by commenting on their posts. Where to start?
- Check out LinkedIn News articles on your Home page and add to the discussion.
- Create a poll question to get engagement.
- Above all, don’t be afraid. You have something just as valuable to offer as anyone.
Provide a Connecting Story
On LinkedIn, everyone can claim they have stronger and better skills and knowledge to compete against you. However, it’s not convincing enough. A savvy recruiter will want to know why you could get this skill/knowledge, how you got it, and what achievements it has helped you to create.
Provide a story that connects with your claim in skill/knowledge, which will make your claim more solid and logical. Your story can be a great differentiator to set you apart from others.
Make the Right First Impression With Your Profile Photo
Your profile photo, or lack of one, is the first thing that viewers see on your profile. Make it count! Having a photo has been PROVEN to increase your profile views.
When selecting a photo, consider these three rules:
1. Take a high-quality photo. It doesn’t have to be an expensive professional headshot. Many smartphones these days take great-quality photos.
2. Smile! Smiling shows confidence, likeability, and approachability. It makes your profile more inviting.
3. No selfies! Have a photographer, or even just a friend, snap a quick photo of you outside, or against a simple backdrop.
Identify the Right Job Influencers and Decision Makers
Don’t start with your LinkedIn profile. I know that may sound strange, but so many people get caught up and lost in the details of their profile that they forget—it’s not for them.
Your LinkedIn profile is for your ideal audience, and that means understanding job roles, job markets, company objectives, industry trends, regional/cultural differences, and, most importantly, who the people behind the scenes are.
Can you identify the person who created the job/who wrote the job description? Do you know the person or team of people with the same job title? What other teams/departments work with people who have this job title? Who is responsible for hiring? Your profile needs to address them, and that means researching and actually speaking to these influencers and decision-makers.
Create Your Shop Window to Sell You, the Job Seeker
The most important thing to understand about LinkedIn, if you want to be found by recruiters and talent professionals, is to think of your LinkedIn profile more like a website than an online CV.
Make it your shop window to sell yourself, the job seeker. This means it is all about ensuring you have the right search terms in the Headline, About Box, Job Titles (most important), and Skills sections on LinkedIn. You also want recent recommendations on your profile to provide social proof and increase the chance of recruiters reaching out.
Add Written Recommendations
Think of a written recommendation as an online review of what you can do and what it’s like to work with you. When recruiters see recommendations that support the information you’ve included in your profile, you appear more credible.
Aim for two written recommendations annually. Great recommendations disclose how the person knows you, what that person observed in your working relationship, and/or any significant results you delivered.
For example, “Lissa and I were peers at XYZ company. We worked on projects together regularly, where I saw Lissa use excellent project management best practices to move work forward. As a result, we delivered the projects on-time and on budget. Lissa brought positivity and fun to the workplace, and I really enjoyed working with her!”
Pro-tip! When asking for a recommendation, have a point-of-view on what skills/results you’d like your recommender to focus on. “I’d love for you to focus on my project management skills.
Include Updated Skills for Better Job Matching
The Skills section on LinkedIn is often a “set-it-and-forget-it” section for many, but it can be a very useful section, especially for job seekers. LinkedIn allows you to choose up to 50 skills from a pre-populated list. Use all 50!
Focus your Skills section on the jobs you want by including skills you have that apply to the jobs you want. This may mean taking out skills you used years ago or taking out skills that are irrelevant, especially in a career change.
Start by doing a skill assessment:
- Do research to determine what skills you need for the jobs you want.
- Do you have these skills? If you do, ensure they are in the Skills section.
- If you don’t, you now have a list of skills you need to learn to be most marketable for the jobs you want.
Be sure you are adding modern skills. If you have out-of-date skills in your LinkedIn Skills section, remove them.
Don’t Forget to Add Rich Media On Your LinkedIn Profile
Think of LinkedIn as an extension of your resume, so it is very important that you complete it with rich media.
This is a great opportunity to prove who you are and what you have done through pictures and videos, something you won’t be able to do on your resume. Everyone loves seeing pictures and videos and engaging with them.
Shift from Invisible to Visible
Most of us have many job titles that appear in the Experience section of our LinkedIn profiles. But how well are those job titles helping us attract the right recruiters? A simple job title like “VP Operations” (nearly 200k LinkedIn members) or “Marketing Manager” (over 25 million) presents a real challenge for recruiters. They have to significantly fine-tune their searches down to a manageable number of viable candidates, which could easily be less than 20!
Even if you already have keywords in your profile, you may be overlooking this power move—increase your ability to get seen by recruiters by adding keywords that follow your official job title.
Instead of “Marketing Manager” as the title for your job description, up-level to “Marketing Manager | Digital Strategy, Content Creation, Media Analysis” in that same Job Title field so you can boost your visibility and help more recruiters find you for your specific expertise.
Always Keep Your Profile Information Up-to-Date
It is quite puzzling how many individuals on LinkedIn, who are actively seeking new roles, forget to keep their profile information correct and up-to-date. They don’t realize that LinkedIn is the world’s premier job search engine, and recruiters have very little time to peruse a plethora of suitable profiles from which to create a proper shortlist of the best candidates.
If your profile is missing the right details to set you apart from the crowd, they will not find you for the dream job opportunity that you seek. Your background info, professional certifications and publications, past and current volunteer positions, interpersonal and job-relevant skill set, completed projects and current ones, industry recognitions received or nominated for, languages, and interests that you care about must be on your profile and kept up-to-date.
You need an “all-star profile” to paint your most accurate image to your profile visitors, viz. recruiters and their contacts—who could share your profile.
Submit Your Answer
Would you like to submit an alternate answer to the question, “What is one tip to optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure the right recruiters can find you? Elaborate on the benefits/effects of implementing this tip.”