If you’d asked me 7 or 8 years ago which tool was more critical for a job search – a resume or LinkedIn, I would’ve said that a resume was a “need to have” and the LinkedIn a “nice to have.”
Not so anymore. Today I tell my clients they are neck and neck or both of equal importance. I also anticipate that in a few years, LinkedIn will have surpassed the resume.
LinkedIn has evolved into the premier site to expand your professional network and where people go to find social proof that you are who you say you are and know what you say you know. It is also where recruiters go to vet talent. In fact, according to a 2017 U.S. News & World Report article, 95% use a LinkedIn search as a key sourcing tool to find candidates to present to their client companies.
6 Opportunities to Boost Your Position in a LinkedIn Search
In my experience, the 6 biggest missed opportunities to differentiate yourself from the sea of others and bubble to the top of LinkedIn recruiter searches are:
- A Keyword-Rich Headline
- Skipped or Lackluster Summary Section
- An Incomplete Profile
- The Right Picture
- A Customized Banner
- Engagement that Aligns with Your Target Audience
#1 KEYWORD-RICH HEADLINE
If you do nothing else, uncheck the box on your job experience that makes your current job title your default title in your LinkedIn headline.
Why? Job titles and company names don’t always explain what you do, and often times hiring managers and recruiters will enter in specific keywords to come up with a list of potential candidates.
LinkedIn gives you 120 characters to use to craft a keyword-rich headline. This means you should use this section to include the kinds of keywords a recruiter or hiring manager would use to search for talent like you.
Here’s an example:
VP of Sales, XXX
Keyword Rich Headline:
Senior Healthcare Sales Executive | Business, Channel + Emerging Market Developer | F500/100 CXO Account Management
While the default title contains just 2 keywords (“VP” and “Sales”), the keyword-rich headline contains 8 “Executive,” “Healthcare,” “Sales,” “Channel,” “Emerging Market,” “F500/100,” “CXO” and “Account Management.”
The profile with the most keywords wins because the more keywords you have, the greater your chances of bubbling to the top during the search!
#2 SKIPPED OR LACKLUSTER SUMMARY SECTION
Taking a page from journalism, I liken your LinkedIn summary to a lead (lede) paragraph in a news story that gives the reader a sense of what the story will be about. Can you imagine a news article that skips this critical section?
When you bypass this section in your LinkedIn profile, you are missing an opportunity to tell the reader what your story is going to be about and you’re missing the chance to weave in keywords.
On the desktop, the first 282 characters (or the first 40 words) are what show up (the mobile app at 147 is even less!). If you are intrigued, you have to click for more. Make them count by including keyword-rich language that shows why people tend to hire someone like you.
Here’s an example that uses 281 characters:
When pharma companies need sales strategy and leadership to drive transformation, turnaround, launch new products or markets, or catapult teams from good to great – I am brought in.
The results? Plans that convert customers, bring new products to market and unseat the competition.
Other components I recommend including in the summary are a skills section (an opportunity to insert keywords) and your contact info (providing an interested party with an easy way to reach out to you without having to do extra clicking to find your contact info on your profile).
#3 AN INCOMPLETE PROFILE
When you complete as many sections of LinkedIn as possible, not only will you be able to capitalize on the LinkedIn search algorithm to come up higher in search results, you will provide the reader a clearer sense of who you are as a person and professional.
Sections to complete include organizations, certifications, skills, volunteer experience, honors and awards, to name a few. By identifying and adding new information to these areas, you will likely experience a boost in recruiter views and strong connection requests.
#4 THE RIGHT PICTURE
Humans being what they are, snap judgments come part and parcel with looking at your LinkedIn pic and banner. I recommend increasing the likelihood of a positive snap judgment by including a headshot that conveys the image you are trying to portray.
When it comes to the picture, I recommend including a full-face headshot that does not include others, doesn’t appear like others are cropped out, doesn’t look blurry. Professionally taken is best but in a pinch having someone use an iPhone and using the photoshopping software will suffice.
Also read: How to: Leveraging LinkedIn for Networking
#5 A CUSTOMIZED BANNER
A customized banner can help elevate your brand and presence. I recommend using a super user-friendly and free site like Canva.com. You don’t need to be a graphic design whiz (I know I’m not!) to create a right-sized banner that aligns with your target role and industry.
Here’s an example of mine. You’ll see that I included imagery that conveys to readers that I am a writer, and included names of publications to which I’ve contributed – to further my brand as a career expert.
#6 ENGAGEMENT THAT ALIGNS WITH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Every time you engage on LinkedIn, whether linking commenting, sharing or posting, contributes to how those who read your profile perceive you. Conversely, when you don’t engage, the public is left to their own devices.
While you don’t have to be a social media stalker, I recommend spending a half hour every week participating on LinkedIn to shape and nurture the brand you’d like to convey.
Consider sharing articles of interest to those in your industry, including your thoughts on a hot topic, or even comment on what others have said. Stuck for where to start? Consider following industry-leading companies and thought leaders in your field. See what they have to say, share it with your connections and add your thoughts!
DON’T MISS OUT
Like it or not, people are on LinkedIn, and thanks to technology algorithms impact how you high your profile pops up in searches.
A complete and keyword-rich profile, together with a bit of activity and a few extra touches – will elevate your brand and increase your shot at rising to the top of a candidate search.
Looking for more Guidance on Using LinkedIn?
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