You might not be actively looking for a new job, but wouldn’t it be great to have people calling you with interesting opportunities?
With a strong LinkedIn profile, you can.
Executive recruiters are constantly scouring LinkedIn to find just the right people to fill their clients’ open positions. When you design your profile to be recruiter-friendly, you make yourself easier to find and help recruiters appreciate what you could bring to the employer.
How can you make your profile more attractive to recruiters?
I recently had the opportunity to interview a team from the Technology Executive Group, an executive recruiting firm that specializes in the technology industry. They provided a wealth of advice, with LinkedIn tips and tricks that any job seeker can use, from technical professionals to the C-suite.
Contributing to the discussion were Jill Greenblat, Sarah McCullough, Kristin Wardour, Ethel Dailey and Stephanie House from the firm’s Washington DC office.
When you look at a profile, what are the first things you look for?
“The photo! You can tell a lot from a picture,” explained Sarah McCullough, partner. “You can see how professional they are.”
Don’t simply use a picture taken from a social occasion or a vacation. If you don’t want to pay for a headshot, have a simple photo taken in an appropriate setting. Remember, this is an impression of who you are in the workplace — you want to appear friendly, professional and approachable.
The tagline draws their attention next. This is the phrase that appears next to your photo. Many people simply use their title as a headline, but others get more creative.
“Your tagline should tell who you are and what value you bring in a very short and concise way,” stated Jill Greenblat, principal. “Sometimes people try to be cute and catchy, just to get attention, but it doesn’t come across as professional.”
“If you do something unique, such as DevOps, that should be in your tagline,” added Kristin Wardour, principal. “You should be able to get the essence of what you do into four words or less. For example: ‘enterprise sales executive.’ In fact, the word ‘executive’ is a good choice, especially for candidates who want to move up.”
What are red flags to you?
“One red flag for me is if the profile is too wordy. But it’s equally bad if they have no details, no statistics,” said Ethel Dailey, research associate.
“If they are in sales and don’t have metrics, it makes me wonder,” agreed Wardour. “They should show their success.”
“If they don’t have a lot of contacts, that’s a red flag for me,” said Greenblat. “When I am searching for a high-level sales executive I wonder how good they can be if they only have 250 contacts.”
“I did a recent search for a vice president of marketing,” added McCullough. “The client wouldn’t talk to people who didn’t have at least 500 connections. They told me that if someone can’t market themselves, they don’t believe they can market a product.”
“A lack of recommendations is a red flag for me,” stated McCullough. “If you’ve been in the business for a while there should be people who recommend you. There should be one meaningful recommendation for each job. If you can tell the person wanted to write the recommendation and it talks about what the person did, that’s ideal.”
“I check to see if they are connected to their boss and others they work with,” said Wardour. “If they aren’t first degree connections, it makes me wonder.”
What tips would you offer?
“Give a short description of each company and product that you worked on, especially when you’ve been at a lot of startups,” offered Greenblat. “Recruiters don’t have time to look up each company.”
“It’s not necessary to include every job you have held,” stated McCullough. “Fifteen years of work history is usually enough, unless there is something really outstanding in those early jobs, like selling the company or getting a patent.”
“If you want to receive job opportunities, be easy to reach,” said Stephanie House, research assistant. “Put your contact information somewhere on your profile. It doesn’t have to be in the contact section – even if it is lower down on the profile we will find it.”
“You need a summary that tells who you are and what you’re looking for,” added McCullough. “But we don’t expect your profile to be set up for job-seeking. Nine out of 10 times the people we contact are happily working in their job. If you are in a sales role, it’s fine for your profile to speak to prospects. You are showing how you sell.”
“Keywords are important! We use keywords in every single search to try to find that perfect person,” said Greenblat.
“I always look at their interests,” added Wardour. “One of our candidates said he was an astronaut. If you have something interesting like that, include it.”
“It’s always interesting to find something that sets the candidate apart,” said McCullough. “People forget that recruiters and hiring managers are looking at dozens or hundreds of profiles. Being memorable gives you an advantage. But being quirky for the sake of being quirky is a turn-off.”
“Sometimes people put ‘United States’ as their location to show they are willing to relocate. But I need to know where you are now,” explained Wardour. “Some of our clients are open to relocation, others aren’t.”
What are some common LinkedIn profile mistakes?
Keep your experience section clean. Put volunteer work in the volunteer section; hobbies in the interests section. You don’t want to look flighty or like you can’t hold a job.
“If we see multiple jobs at the same time, we assume you were working as a consultant,” said McCullough. “The exception is if you were unemployed. Then it’s OK to show you were doing something between jobs.”
What impresses you?
“I like to see posts or updates that show you are knowledgeable about your industry,” said McCullough. “They demonstrate that you are looking at things from 30,000 feet, thinking and networking at a high level.”
What advice would you give someone in their 50s who is worried about competing with younger people?
“You can take the dates off your education, and you don’t have to include all of your jobs in work experience,” offered McCullough.
“Show that you have a track record of success,” added Wardour. “Include patents, products you’ve introduced, especially innovations that show you are current with industry trends.”
“Our clients can worry that someone with a lot of experience will be bored quickly,” said Greenblat. “If you are looking to make a change and willing to take a position at a lower level, say so — put it in your summary.”
“Age doesn’t matter,” said McCullough. “It is how much energy you show. You want to give the impression that you are energetic and enthusiastic.”
How about advice for someone in their late 20s or early 30s?
“Be specific about your accomplishments in your previous roles,” suggested Greenblat. “Talk about the size of your team and P&L responsibility. Demonstrate that you have built up your experience.”
Don’t just list your jobs – include information about what products you worked with, what results you achieved. Make your profile rich.
“Allow the recruiter to see how smart you are, how well-connected you are,” added McCullough. “Keep a blog and post on industry trends.”
What about people who are looking but don’t want to worry the boss?
“You can be under the radar if you use LinkedIn effectively,” said McCullough. “Make sure you have the right buzzwords in your profile. Provide contact information and make yourself reachable through LinkedIn.” Include a statement such as “Love networking and meeting new people” in your profile. It opens the door to new connections and opportunities.
Any final advice?
“If someone reaches out to you through InMail or a LinkedIn message, please respond,” said House. Every connection you make expands your network and opens you to more connections. If you aren’t interested but could make a referral, it’s a great way to connect with a recruiter.
There you have it! Excellent advice from the experts about how to attract the attention of recruiters, impress them, and make it easy for them to contact you with opportunities.
If you are preparing for a job search and want help making your LinkedIn profile stronger, read about ProResource’s LinkedIn Profile Makeovers.