“When you’re looking for a job, your LinkedIn profile is a 24/7 information resource for the recruiters who are looking for talent,” says Gwen Moran in Fast Company. “87% of recruiters find LinkedIn most effective when vetting candidates during the hiring process.”
Whether you’re looking in graphic design, digital marketing or mobile app development, think of your LinkedIn page as an expression of your brand identity. Your page can make or break your job search, depending on whether the details about your career so far attract recruiters rather than repel them. Here’s a quick checklist of 10 ways to appeal to (and sometimes, drive away) recruiters looking at your LinkedIn branding.
- DON’T LEAVE HOLES.
When a senior talent acquisition expert like Cassandre Joseph of Korn Ferry looks at your LinkedIn page, she wants to see work experience, education and accomplishments. Incomplete profiles make it trickier to determine whether you’re the best match for the job. "I find somebody's profile and it says they've worked at, according to the profile, four different places simultaneously. They're adding the new places, but not putting end dates. That says they haven't updated their LinkedIn profile in X amount of years," she says.
- STOP WITH THE SELFIES.
Your profile photo should match your brand message. It should synch up with the way you see yourself in the position you’re seeking. Selfies and snapshots tell recruiters you couldn’t be bothered to make a professional first impression. "People can easily evaluate their profile photos using Photofeeler.com,” says search consultant Donna Svei.
- WHO’S GOT YOUR BACK?
If you only have a handful of contacts, start beefing up. Reach out to your contacts’ contacts first. Recruiters find candidates without contacts unappealing; they prefer to see robust networks that include allied fields. So if you’re looking in HD video production, for example, it doesn’t hurt to have contacts in traditional marketing, content management and business development. And while some people have thousands of contacts, 300 contacts or more is a healthy and (relatively) easy-to-achieve number. Start adding, and keep adding to increase leads.
- DISCREPANCIES TRIGGER ALARMS
When your dates of employment, job titles, or other facts differ between your profile and resume, a recruiter might question your handling of details. They may also wonder if you’re not being truthful on your LinkedIn page, your resume, or both.
- NO ONE HAS TIME FOR A LONG, DENSE SUMMARY
Think like a copywriter. Highlight what’s in your summary for recruiters to connect with you, like your achievements, honors, and success stories. Short copy blocks and bullet points drive your message home. Try looking over your summary on your smartphone before sending it around—that’s how many recruiters will first see it on their mobile apps. It’s also important to include keywords about your industry for easy searchability.
- YOUR HEADLINE has to SAY IT ALL
Your LinkedIn profile will likely come up on Google searches. Google results usually include your location and the professional headline that appears under your name on your profile. Rebuild that headline to clarify who you are, your industry and your specific position in one glance.
- DE-CUTE YOUR JARGON
If your job title is “Retail Ninja” or “Director and Wizard of Light Bulb Moments,” your co-workers will smile (briefly), but recruiters will just sigh heavily. Be clear: Deliver your job title, what it means, and what your industry does.
- RECRUITERS FOLLOW YOU ONLINE
Melanie Lundberg, assistant vice president of talent management and corporate communications for Combined Insurance, emphasizes the need to stay active online during your job search. "Read news feeds, share content, comment—it shows a level of professional engagement," she says. When possible, link to articles you’ve written or other examples of your work. Many will also be looking for professionalism in what you post, so think twice about posting political opinions or off-color jokes.
- DON’T DEPEND ON RECOMMENDATIONS ALONE
Recruiters aren’t usually very impressed with recommendations, unless they’re short and highlight something positive or unique about your capabilities and strengths. Don’t ignore recommendations, but don’t count on them to do any heavy lifting, either.
- LET THEM KNOW YOU’RE ON THE HUNT
LinkedIn’s Open Candidates option lets you privately signal recruiters that you’re looking for a job. Donna Svei says it’s a good idea to use this option, which indicates that you want to hear about potential opportunities.