By Harry Urschel
image As I’ve said many times before, LinkedIn is a game changer when it comes to an effective job search in today’s online world. There has never been a resource that made it as easy to find the critical information you need when you’re looking for a new job… Companies, Contacts, Interview Prep information, Comparative Job Histories, and venues to discuss topics and challenges related to any job, field, or industry. It’s incredible… and that’s no overstatement.
As much as LinkedIn can be used proactively to gain the information needed, it sure is nice to be “found” once in awhile and pursued for potential opportunities as well. The key to being found, is having a profile that works!
What gets attention, what gets read, what improves your chances of getting a call or an email?
As a recruiter, I look at hundreds of LinkedIn profiles. It’s one of the most powerful and effective tools I have in finding qualified candidates for positions I’m trying to fill. What makes me move on and what gets me to reach out? Here are some key points…
Keywords – Keywords – Keywords!!! The only way anyone is found is by someone entering some keywords in the search box for what they are looking for. Generally, it’s not practical to “browse” 80 MILLION profiles in the hopes of stumbling across the right person. They will enter some words to find people with that specific background. Here’s the tough part… there is no dictionary of terms used to find certain skills. Anyone running a search has to figure it out for themselves.
So… take the time to think about “what are all the possible search terms someone might use to find someone like me?” Then make sure all those words are somewhere in your profile. If someone is looking for a “Payroll Manager”, and your were a “Payroll Supervisor”, they may not find you if you don’t have the word “Manager” in your profile. Incorporate the different terms in your job descriptions if you can. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to simply have a list of additional keywords somewhere at the bottom of your profile. Be honest about your background, but make sure you turn up in the appropriate searches!
Short Substantive Sound-bites! Like a resume, a LinkedIn profile will typically only get scanned for a few seconds before the reader decides whether you are worth pursuing further or not. In that quick scan, short phrases will get read and long sentences and paragraphs will not. A paragraph may make a powerful argument why you’re a dynamite prospect, but if it never gets read, it has no impact at all.
Figure out what things in your background are the most important, most marketable, and most in demand in your field, and make those experiences pop out in your profile. Take long descriptions and figure out what are the most important points to get across from each sentence. Make those points in a few words in separate bullet points. Each bullet does not have to be a complete sentence, and will have more impact in a few well chosen words.
* 4 consecutive years of 15% or greater sales growth
will more likely get read, and has more impact than…
* Sales production increased by 15% or more in year-over-year growth in each of the last four fiscal years due to increased efforts and new strategies.
The first example has more impact and gets more results, however, the second example is the norm because it seems more complete. In your LinkedIn profile as in your resume, it’s better to be effective than it is to have complete explanations!
“Call me!” Unless you are directly connected as a first level connection in LinkedIn, your contact information is not visible to the reader. If you are hoping to be contacted, make it easy for them to contact you! Put your phone number and email address in the Summary section at the top of your profile. Don’t make them have to send an introduction through another user, or use up one of their “In Mails”, or have to scroll to the bottom of your profile, or try to look you up in some other way. The easier it is, the more likely they will connect.
When I’m hunting for a good candidate for a position I’m working on, and find someone that seems like they might be qualified, but can’t tell for sure from their profile… I will likely call if their contact information is easy to find. If it’s not in their profile and I can’t easily find it otherwise, I will generally simply move on to another candidate… there are plenty to look at. If your profile is on the bubble in their mind, you’d rather get a chance to make your case rather than just have them move on… make it easy to for them to connect!
Make yourself real! Pictures have an interesting effect on LinkedIn. While I would not recommend that anyone put a picture on their resume, having a picture on LinkedIn often sways me to make a call rather than move on. When someone’s profile looks like they might have relevant experience for the position I’m working on, but it’s not crystal clear… I will often connect with them to find out more if they have a professional looking picture displayed. It personalizes it, and makes them more of a real person than a faceless listing.
The picture must be a professional headshot. A vacation picture, or a picture of your boat, or pet, or kids tells me that they don’t understand that LinkedIn is a Professional networking site, not equivalent to Facebook or MySpace. The profile pictures are tiny, a full body shot or even a half body shot will not allow anyone to see your face well enough to make it personal. Get up-close, wear professional clothing (at least on the neck), and smile!
“They LIKE me!” Get recommended! When looking at a profile, I usually look to see if anyone had recommended them. Since LinkedIn allows you to choose which recommendations are visible on your profile and which aren’t, I always assume they are positive so I almost never take the time to read what the recommendations actually say. However, the fact that someone was willing to write something positive about them creates a good impression.
The easiest way to get recommendations… is to give them. Write recommendations on LinkedIn for previous managers, co-workers, customers, or vendors. Usually, at least half the time, they will return the favor. Three or four are good, it’s not necessary or even particular helpful to have 10 or more.
LinkedIn is a great place to have more information than your resume. It’s not necessary to limit yourself to two pages as you should in your resume. However, although you can have more overall length, each line should be shorter. Include all the appropriate keywords you can, include your contact information, include a professional picture, and get recommendations. You will greatly improve your chances of getting found.