When you're marketing a product, the rule of thumb is to define the audience you're selling it to, find out where they spend their time, and promote your product there. The rules are no different when it comes to marketing yourself as a job candidate on LinkedIn.
The popular business networking site is a go-to resource for recruiters in two key ways:
- A recruiter will often check you out on LinkedIn after they've skimmed your resume, looking for additional supporting information.
- A recruiter will do a LinkedIn search to identify strong candidates for an open position, or one that they know will be opening up in the next few months.
Whether you're actively looking for a job, or could benefit from being headhunted as a passive candidate, it's in your best interest as a professional to spend some quality time building up your online presence through LinkedIn. The effort will make you stand out from other applicants and candidates who haven't put as much work into their digital portfolio.
Here are some tips on what recruiters look for when they peruse your LinkedIn profile, and how you can dazzle them:
Experience, Education and Job History
Years of experience, a particular degree, and a relevant industry background are often the first items a recruiter mentally checks off their list when comparing a job description with your LinkedIn profile.
Listing past positions with employment dates is the bare minimum; what a recruiter really wants to see is a description of your responsibilities and achievements.
We suggest writing each LinkedIn job entry so that it adds extra value beyond the information your resume already provides. You should give an interested recruiter the answers to the following questions:
- What did you do day to day in this role?
- How did your responsibilities evolve over time?
- What was the tangible outcome of your efforts?
Here's a good example of what this looks like in practice:
The last bullet point in the example above is extremely important. Why? Because "I am an effective salesman" is a matter of opinion. "I exceeded my quarterly sales goal by 24%" is a matter of fact that speaks for itself.
Work Samples & Outside Portfolios
Beyond fitting the basic requirements for a job, recruiters often want to see proof that you can produce quality work -- particularly if you're in a creative field like marketing or a technical field like engineering.
That's where LinkedIn's "Media" upload capabilities come in handy.
The site allows you to upload or link to external documents, photos, sites, videos, and presentations while you're in profile edit mode. You can associate project samples or deliverables with a particular position you've held in the past; you can also add more general proof points like a podcast appearance or speaking engagement at an event to the intro section, which appears under your headline.
There's an additional opportunity to list any publications that you helped write or produce (such as eBooks or reports) in the "Accomplishments" section at the bottom of your profile.
If you don't have any content to link to from other sites or sources, LinkedIn offers you the option of publishing articles directly from your home page.
Building up a library of posts about your topic of expertise will show a recruiter how well-versed you are in a particular industry -- even if you don't have a lot of work experience just yet.
Finally, you can link to a personal website and your social media accounts by clicking the edit pencil in the "Contact and Personal Info" section on the right-hand side of the screen. Providing a glimpse into who you are outside of your day job is valuable because it gives recruiters a sense of how you would fit into their company culture. If it comes down to you and another candidate with comparable experience and a similar skill set, your extracurriculars will put you at the head of the class.
It's easy to toot your own horn as a professional. But accolades mean a lot more coming from someone you've worked with -- whether that's a boss, co-worker, client or direct report. Recruiters take a risk every time they recommend a candidate they've sourced to a hiring manager, and LinkedIn testimonials are a powerful tool because they vet you as a smart bet. You'll be arming them with proof that you can build strong business relationships and turn work colleagues into fans.
There are two ways to request a LinkedIn recommendation:
1. Navigate to the LinkedIn profile of the person who you want to ask by using the search bar, and select "request a recommendation" from the "..." dropdown menu to the far right of their headshot.
2. From your LinkedIn home screen, view your profile by clicking on your headshot (either on the upper left-hand or right-hand side of the screen), scroll down to the Recommendations section and click the "Ask to be recommended" link; then you can search for the person you want to ask.
LinkedIn provides a generic outreach template ("Hi Ben, can you write me a recommendation?"), but you'll be far more likely to get a good (and prompt) response if you personalize the message. Offering specific guidelines is also helpful. Do you want the person making the recommendation to focus on your professionalism? Leadership? Skill set? All of the above?
Don't forget: Favors can go two ways. When you're requesting a LinkedIn recommendation, offer to write one in return!
Let LinkedIn Work For You
Your LinkedIn account is extremely valuable real estate. It's a living, breathing resume that's searchable via Google and linkable through your other social media channels.
Listing your education and experience is just the beginning; to really shine as a job applicant and attract interest even when you're not actively participating in a job search, you need to spend quality time populating your profile with talking points, data, work samples, and references. This extra effort is what will set you apart from other professionals and convince recruiters that they have to talk to you.
Once your LinkedIn profile is optimized and you're ready to apply to your next role, why not sign up for ReferralMob? Each job posted on our platform comes with an exclusive $500 hiring bonus, and the opportunity to earn $500 on referrals.