There are 277 million users on LinkedIn, according to the company’s latest results, and many of them — though not all — are probably competing for the same jobs. To improve your chances of scoring the next great gig, it helps to know how recruiters use the site.
(MORE: When to Refuse LinkedIn Requests)
Make Your Profile Public
Rule No. 1: “Your LinkedIn profile should be public,” says Jenny Foss, president of the Ladder Recruiting Group in Portland, Ore.
“It’s the first thing that recruiters look at,” says Nicole Greenberg Strecker, managing director of recruitment agency STA Worldwide in Chicago, Ill. "Your bio should include your title, industry and location. “If you want to work in Silicon Valley and live in Kansas, change your location to Silicon Valley on LinkedIn. Recruiters search ZIP codes.”
Choose Keywords Carefully
And your title should be razor-sharp. “Don’t write Senior Analyst at Ernst & Young, write Hedge Fund Financial Analyst at Ernst & Young,” says Jeremy Roberts, editor of Sourcecon, a blog and conference series for recruiters.
No software is too old to mention. Technology recruitment consultants look for people who are proficient in WordPress because many companies don’t have the latest programs, Roberts says. And if you use in-demand open-sourced software like Ruby on Rails, say so. “It will save you a lot of spam,” Roberts says.
Join LinkedIn Groups and Participate
Take part in the conversation, Hennessy adds, but only if you have something to say.
Beware of criticism, says Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president for marketing at Dale Carnegie Training. “Never complain or express sour grapes,” she says. “It’s not Facebook, it’s a professional network.”
Fill in Work Gaps
Recruiters are looking for reasons not to court you and anything that appears odd will be a red alert. “If there are gaps in your work history, fill that in, otherwise recruiters are going to get nervous,” Killelea says. “Many people who were laid off are not comfortable filling in those gaps, but they absolutely need too.”
Include details of volunteer work or, if it’s true, add “consulting,” she adds. Killelea’s golden rule for LinkedIn (and life): “If you can’t hide it, decorate it.”
Don't Let Your Profile Date You
And those who graduated from college a decade ago may want to exclude the date they graduated. “Your college graduation date will age you,” he says, “and although ageism is illegal, it’s happening all the time.”
On the other hand, if you’re applying for a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company and you graduated in 1986, it’s okay to leave the date, Dobroski says.
Recruiters are actually looking for thoughtful recommendations from a well-respected peer or former employer, Palazzolo says. “I get endorsed for things that I don’t know how to do,” she says. “People want to see you’ve developed solid relationships.” That said, Foss says people should manage their skills and endorsements, rather than letting other people choose them, and an endorsement from a very big name could help.
Most hiring managers don’t want to hire someone who’s smarter than them. But it’s smart to write, “increased conference attendance by 40 percent,” instead of a passive job description like, “conference manager.”
People don’t want to read a LinkedIn profile that resembles a self-published memoir. “Don’t pompously refer to yourself in the third person,” Foss adds.
Selfies are a no-no, says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources, an information technology and engineering staffing firm in Lansing, Mich. “Ask yourself, “If my grandmother looked at this picture, would she be proud?’” Sackett has seen LinkedIn photos of a woman dressed in an American flag and a man in blurry selfie taken in his bedroom.
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