10 ways to make your LinkedIn stand out to recruiters

March 10, 2020, 4:00 PM UTC
NurPhoto NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you’ve ever applied to a job on LinkedIn, you’ve seen that message saying X and Y company has viewed your profile. Sure, that’s the outcome you wanted when you sent in your resume, though it’s not who viewed your profile but what is in there that matters -especially if you haven’t done anything to it for a while.

According to the 2018 Jobvite Recruiter Nation Study, 77 percent of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn to find candidates, making it the most popular social media used for this purpose. So, if that job description is out of date or your photo is the one you took way back in your college dorms, you should definitely be serious about updating your profile. To ensure it stands out to recruiters, we spoke to career experts about the changes you can make:

1. Use a professional picture

The number one thing every profile needs is a good picture. “Recruiters, connections, and hiring managers all prefer LinkedIn profiles with a photo,” says Caitlin Proctor, a career expert at ZipJob, a professional resume writing and editing service. “Pick one that looks how you would look like when walking into an interview, and have someone else take it for you.” When choosing which one to use, focus on which appears the most professional and approachable.

2. Customize your headline and profile background

LinkedIn assigns both of them automatically: your latest position fills in your headline, and a blue background that looks like a constellation is set to anyone that doesn’t create their own. While this may be all you need, having a specific, eye-catching headline and background can attract recruiters to your profile.

“You want a customized headline that quickly tells someone who you are, and what you specialize in,” says Jenny Foss, a recruiter, job search strategist, and founder of career blog JobJenny. “And a lot of people don’t even realize you can customize your background, but you can and you should.” Not only does this set you apart, but it provides you the opportunity to give recruiters a further sense of who you are. “I’d make the most of it. It’s valuable real estate!”          

3. Make your summary short and enticing

“It’s really important to have a well-thought-out and not oppressively long summary on LinkedIn,” says Foss. “Everyone is skimming, so they may not scroll all the way through your profile.” She recommends clearly introducing yourself in the first person with an overview of what you bring to the table.  

If you’re unsure what points to mention, Diane Domeyer, executive director for The Creative Group, a creative and marketing staffing agency, explains it well: “This section, front-and-center under your headshot, is an opportunity to share your career story. If your LinkedIn profile is a digital resume, the summary is your cover letter.”

4. Keep everything up to date

It’s all well and good to set up your LinkedIn and make it look great but, if you don’t add in new information as it becomes relevant, then it’s all for naught. “Too often, people forget to keep their profile updated,” says Domeyer. To stay relevant within the platorm, “keep your profile fresh and be active on it.” Maybe you’ve had the same job for years, but did you win an award, take on an additional responsibility, completed a certificate, or learned a new skill? Add those to your profile.

5. Showcase your portfolio

Add any work you’ve done that can be easily displayed on the platform. “People tend to skip the Featured section where users can post sample work, articles and links, which is especially important if you’re a creative professional,” says Domeyer. “Take advantage of this opportunity to build your online portfolio.” Even if you were quoted in an article or used as a source, it’s worth adding the media it was used for onto your profile. 

6. Improve your profile’s URL

While it may not seem like much, your URL is what recruiters use to look at your LinkedIn. Proctor recommends changing it from a mix of names and numbers to a smooth and concise link. If your name by itself is taken, or very common, add your degree, location or industry as well. This small move shows you took the extra time to clean up every aspect of your profile, not just the obvious parts. 

7. Integrate keywords to become more relevant

When recruiters are searching for potential candidates, they often use keywords to find related profiles. This is a great way to increase the chances of your profile being found. “You want to integrate keywords throughout your profile,” says Proctor. “Your headline, about section, work experience, and skills section are all great places for these. Look at current job descriptions in your field to find out what keywords you should use.” These keywords will be very similar, if not the same, to those you integrate into your actual resume. 

8. Explicitly say you’re job seeking

There may be other reasons why you haven’t heard back from a job application, but sometimes you just come accross as unavailable at LinkedIn. Foss suggests to take advantage of the Open Candidate feature, which allows you to alert recruiters who are using LinkedIn Premium Recruiter. “Let them know that you’re interested in being contacted, and spell out what types of roles you’d like to hear about,” she says. While recruiters at your own company are unable to see if you’ve activated the feature, any outside recruiting agencies will be able to see it. But consider this: if you don’t want to disclose job searching to your current company, best to leave this off. 

9. Have (and give!) recommendations

While it may feel awkward to do so, Proctor suggests asking for recommendations to highlight on your profile and vouch for others on theirs. “Seeing what other people have to say about you is useful, like a 5-star review,” says Proctor. “What you have to say about other people is even more powerful, because it reveals what you notice and appreciate in others.” Reach out to someone you’ve worked with and ask if they want to swap public recommendations with you for LinkedIn—it’s a win-win. 

10. Interact with your connections more often

Instead of spending all your free time scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, why not go on LinkedIn? “Spending a few minutes on LinkedIn a couple of times a week, commenting on people’s posts, congratulating for new jobs or work anniversaries, or sharing articles you find interesting, keeps you front and center with your network without having to leave your desk,” says Foss. After all, LinkedIn is a social media platform, so there’s no harm in treating it like such.

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