Believe it or not, most recruiters spend less than one minute reading your LinkedIn profile. Some admit to spending as little as 20 to 30 seconds. This precursory scan gives them enough information to determine whether or not they will save your profile for a more thorough perusing or click “Next.”
This doesn’t mean you should skimp on fully filling out your profile, but it means it more important to make sure you highlight the things recruiters need to see in order to move your profile to the next round of closer examination.
Here are some of the things recruiters are looking for when they view your LinkedIn profile.
“Open to connecting”
Recruiters don’t want to waste time analyzing a candidate that is secure in their current position. They need people who are open to a major job change. Yet, candidates usually can’t outright say they’re looking for a new job if they’re currently employed. So recruiters and candidates have to develop a series of subtle cues.
One of the more popular phrases recruiters will look for is along the lines of, “I am open to connecting. Please contact me…” and offer an external platform to exchange messages. Users who list their personal e-mail tend to receive more contact than those who rely on LinkedIn messages. One reason is that InMails on LinkedIn can cost money (though most recruiters for large companies will have free InMails as part of their paid LinkedIn plan), but the other reason is the mere openness and familiarity of listing a personal e-mail address or even a phone number.
Including a phrase like this at the end of your opening summary on a separate line will help it stand out.
Number of Connections
If you only have 10 connections, recruiters will raise an eyebrow. Why is this person not able to gain real, professional connections? Are they jerks to work with? Do they not have enough experience for the position I’m looking to fill? Does the number of your connections match your previous companies or education? Someone who worked for Google or graduated from Stanford University is likely to have more connections than average.
Most Recent Position
Recruiters will spend the most time looking at the job description for your current or most recent position. They will look at how long you’ve been there—if it’s been too short, they may assume you’re not ready to leave your job. They will also look to see if the seniority and responsibilities match the position they’re trying to fill.
If you’re going through a major career change, make sure to inform readers upfront near the top of your profile. That way they don’t mistake your work history for an inability or unwillingness to apply for a job in another field.
Your Career Trajectory
Recruiters are adept at quickly analyzing your career path. They’ll look at position begin and end dates as well as your job titles with each company. These are some of the common questions recruiters are asking themselves:
Are you advancing at a normal pace? Or have you been stagnant at one position level for many years? These may indicate problems with ambition, responsibility or education.
Do you switch jobs too often? Recruiters are looking for loyalty and dedication, even if employees find that companies are not always loyal in return.
Do your job titles make sense? For instance, branding yourself as “Vice President of Product Distribution” for a 5-person company does not always play well with recruiters who work with large corporations.
Do your job responsibilities match the job title? A title of seniority, whether Manager or Executive VP, should be followed by a list of title-appropriate functions.
What have you accomplished in these positions? Recruiters want to see how you have helped the companies you worked for, past and present. Don’t just list what you were told to do, i.e., what your “responsibilities” were. Instead make sure you describe how you contributed to increasing sales, improving workflow, diagnosing and solving a problem, etc.
Usually, you can’t change these things. They are what they are, but you do not want to lie about them. Instead, you can account for them with some smart word choice or possibly a more straightforward explanation in your summary. Whatever you do, make sure you’re honest. Dancing around the truth will be blatant and obvious to any recruiter.
Dollar signs, percentage signs and commas: these small punctuation marks make a huge difference, even if the recruiter does not spend time deeply calculating them. Even just the visual impact can be enough to demonstrate that you have made a measurable impact in your position.
Make sure to include these numbers, whether it’s a percentage of growth (increased attendance 400%) or total number of sales (responsible for accounts garnering $700,000 annually).
Always Explain Gaps
Recruiters don’t mind work history gaps. What they want to see is a good, honest reason. You can simply explain you were taking a sabbatical, raising a family, or starting a business that didn’t work out. What will get you in trouble is not mentioning the gap. It will be obvious to the recruiter, and they will wonder what you could be hiding then click “Next!”
It’s best if you can fill these gaps as they happen with additional professional experience, including volunteering, consulting or continuing education.
They Click Your Links
If you list a blog or Twitter account as a hyperlink in your LinkedIn profile, recruiters are highly likely to click. They’ll scan quickly to see what kind of activity level you have and if your posts are professional. Sharing industry relevant content and posting insightful commentary are especially big winners.
Beware! They may also look on their own. If not the first time they see your profile, at some point they will Google your name and likely find your personal social media, so keep your online reputation clean. Make sure your profile pictures and public posts are not offensive. Revisit your privacy settings every month or so to make sure nothing has been changed by the social media company.
Location, Location, Location
Where you live can be so crucial to a recruiter’s work that they filter their search results by proximity. In some cases, it can be worth fudging your location to a nearby larger city with more job opportunities but only if you’re honestly willing to commute.
If you are open to moving for job opportunities, make sure you subtly imply this. You don’t want to alert your current employer, but adding a word or two will tip off recruiters: “I’m open to connecting throughout the U.S.” or “I am always looking to expand my network.”
A 100% Complete Profile
Once you hear that recruiters only look at specific items in your profile, sometimes taking as little as 20 seconds, you may be tempted to include only this relevant information. However, recruiters do take into account a fully written profile. They know how to find the information they need, and they do value a solid looking profile with lots of information. If they decide to keep your name in the pile, they want to be able to come back for more detail.
Recommendations and Endorsements
Recruiters may not read every word in your recommendations and endorsements, but they will note their presence as a plus for you. Just make sure they look genuine. Overly enthusiastic or too-long reviews scream, “I asked a friend or family member to write this.”
Skill endorsements are also important on LinkedIn, particularly if they are posted on the very skills the recruiter searched to find your profile.
This includes starting a Pulse blog that is full of industry relevant information that demonstrates your knowledge and experience, as well as uploaded documents and slideshows that exemplify your work. Embedded videos of you introducing yourself can also play well with recruiters. Even if they don’t watch the whole thing, it shows your ability to work with technology.
Direct Messages via InMail
Being a brave go-getter accounts for something. If you happen across a recruiter in your field or notice one has viewed your profile, send a quick message. Let them know you are available for work within your field and would like to “Connect” on LinkedIn for current or future opportunities they may encounter.
At the end of the day, remember what recruiters do for a living.
Recruiters are people, too. They are not making it personal when they skip over you or don’t respond to your messages. They are busy professionals who work for companies trying to find them the best fitting candidate they can. Like with any job, they want to make the right decisions when forwarding a candidate to their boss so they can continue to expand their own professional opportunities.
You can help by making your profile easy to read and by highlighting the information you now know is relevant to them. Remember, you don’t need to be the perfect fit for everyone. You just need to be the perfect fit for one company. Know your professional brand and emphasize it throughout your profile, and the right people will be in touch.
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