I recently suggested to a client that if you’re a professional and you’re not on LinkedIn, you very nearly don’t exist.
Don’t shoot the messenger. And, please, allow me to clarify:
You very nearly don’t exist through the eyes of recruiters who use LinkedIn as a primary resource for finding outstanding candidates or checking out people who’ve applied to their open positions—every single day.
OK, so you know you’ve got to be on LinkedIn. But now, we’re going to take it one step further. Recruiters don’t just want to see that you’ve thrown up a profile, they want to see some very specific signs that you’re worth their effort in tracking you down.
Here are six things they're looking for—so you can update your profile accordingly.
Simply put, the more complete your profile, the better the odds that the recruiter will find you in the first place. So completeness is important from that standpoint.
It’s also important after the recruiter has found you and decided to click on your profile. That recruiter is looking for details: She wants to know what you know how to do, where you’ve worked, and what people think of you, so don’t laze out and skip these steps. The good news? LinkedIn will actually measure the “completeness” of your profile as you work and offer suggestions on how to make it stronger.
2. Your Picture
LinkedIn was designed as a tool to encourage engagement and conversation. So, I ask you: Is it easier or harder to connect with someone when you can put a face with the name? Easier, of course. Choose a clear, friendly, and appropriately professional image and pop that baby up there. Not sure what “appropriately professional” means? Take a look around at what the people in your target company, industry sector, or business level are wearing. Match that.
3. A Network
Having 50 or fewer connections on LinkedIn tells recruiters one of three things: 1) You are a recluse who knows very few people, 2) You’re paranoid about connecting with others, or 3) Technology and social media are scary to you. None of these are good. I’m certainly not suggesting you need to be one of those weirdos who wears your “abnormally large number of connections” like a badge of honor, but you really should have at least 50-100 people with whom you’re connected as a starting point.
4. Details That Indicate “High Performer”
Recruiters spend countless hours scouring LinkedIn in search of the high performers. And when they find them, they contact said high performers. Knowing this, you’ll serve yourself well to market yourself as a high performer, through your verbiage (think action words, accomplishments—you know, the same stuff that stands out on resumes) and by having multiple endorsements. (Want some? Start endorsing others—they’re bound to return the favor.)
5. Evidence That You’re Passionate, Engaged, and Excited
The most exciting people to hire are the people who are the most excited about what they do. Show your enthusiasm by joining and participating in groups related to your field of expertise. Use your status line to announce stuff you’re doing related to your field. Share interesting articles or news. Connect with the leaders in your industry. Fly your cheerleader flag.
It goes without saying that third-party testimonials go a long way. Great third-party testimonials go even farther. So ask a few key people to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you, and be specific: Tell the person precisely what you’d love showcased and offer specific examples.
Recruiters often send their own clients (the companies doing the hiring) right to a job seeker’s LinkedIn page if the recommendations look good, so taking the time to solicit a few great ones can pay serious dividends.
In sum, your approach to LinkedIn should be the same approach you take to the rest of your career: Whether you’re actively job-hunting or just want to be an ongoing head-turner, you don’t want to just show up.
You’ve got to shine.
Need help giving your profile that something special? Check out JobJenny's LinkedIn Makeover package!
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Photo of job seeker courtesy of Shutterstock.
Jenny Foss is a career strategist, recruiter, and the voice of the popular career blog JobJenny.com. Based in Portland, OR, Jenny is the author of the Ridiculously Awesome Resume Kit and the Ridiculously Awesome Career Pivot Kit. Also check out the Weekend Resume Makeover Course, find Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny, and book one-on-one coaching sessions with her on The Muse's Coach Connect.More from this Author