How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for a Job Search
Updating the resume is simply the first step in a job search. The most important second step is updating your LinkedIn profile – regardless of what job you are looking for. Many people know the importance of LinkedIn in their job search, yet they still (unknowingly) make big mistakes in their profile that make their job search more difficult. Here are the 4 most biggest LinkedIn mistakes made by job seekers right now and how to avoid them:
1. LINKEDIN IS AN ATS
LinkedIn is a lot of things – including an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). What is an ATS? It is a system that potential employers or recruiters use to sort and manage potential candidates. Specifically, recruiters use LinkedIn to post jobs and proactively search for potential candidates.
Most people looking for jobs do not realize that recruiters who use the LinkedIn Recruiter system can search for you based on the keywords in your LinkedIn profile without you knowing. They are also shown candidates that could be a good match for their job based on the LinkedIn algorithm. So, how do optimize your LinkedIn profile to start showing up in the recruiter searches?
- Headline. Change the system default of your current job title to the 3 or 4 most relevant keywords to you and your current job search.
- Summary. Write one! This is a great way to incorporate keywords that may not otherwise show up in your profile. Make sure it is at least 3-4 sentences but no longer than 7 sentences.
- Experience. This is where you enter each job title throughout your career. You should include all of the information from your resume (yes, the bullets and achievements) and any other relevant information that would help potential employers understand your experience.
- Skills. Like any ATS, LinkedIn uses this section to sort applicants based on the skills on their profile. You can have up to 50 skills on your profile and you only sell yourself short if they aren’t there.
2. ATS WILL PULL YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE
LinkedIn integrates with a number of ATS and job boards. This means that your profile will automatically get pulled through for the potential employer to see when evaluating your application. A number of job boards will also copy or “scrape” your public LinkedIn profile. There’s even a court case about whether this data scraping is legal. In the meantime, what all of this means for job seekers:
- Check your public profile. This is the version of your profile that does not require someone to be logged in to see what is on your profile. This is the version of your profile that the ATS and Job Boards will most likely pull.
- Public is public. Remember that your current employer can still see your profile if they are logged in to the system and they may not want you sharing details on revenue, client names, or certain projects. Be careful about what you share and double check your privacy settings.
- Complete your profile. Make sure to add every section to your LinkedIn profile that is relevant and to complete it fully. Again, the words to complete those sections are keywords that will help improve your visibility in the ATS that pull your profile.
3. ADD MEDIA TO YOUR PROFILE
Media is any video, picture, or pdf and these can now be added to your LinkedIn profile in a variety of places. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then there is no question that you should add media to your LinkedIn profile. A few things to think about when selecting and adding media to your LinkedIn profile:
- Add media to these sections. Include a cover photo, summary section, and each job in the experience section.
- It really is about you not them. Pick media that reflects what you did or your accomplishments. Don’t use this precious real estate on your personal profile to promote your employer or current company if you are looking to leave.
- Make sure you have the rights. There are often rules about who can share what, where, and when. Make sure the media that you pick for your LinkedIn profile is something that you can use in this way.
4. TELL RECRUITERS YOU ARE LOOKING
Once your profile and resume are up to date, then tell recruiters you looking. This can be done in a number of ways, but the best way to start is to change your job seeking preferences in your profile. Consider the following when completing the job seeking preferences part of your profile:
- Keywords matter. The words entered in this part of your “recruiter only” profile are also searchable. So stay focused.
- Don’t be desperate. Remember that the people reading this part of your profile are potential employers or recruiters so only write what you would say in an interview.
- Complete every question fully. Every question is an opportunity for more keywords. So, make sure to complete every one and to answer it completely. Thinking of more than one job title? Or, more than one industry? Make sure to list them all.