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Eight hundred thirty million.
There are 830 million professionals using LinkedIn.
That’s 830 million professionals with profiles with which you’re competing for attention—the attention of recruiters who are searching for specific answers on LinkedIn when hunting for candidates to fill their job openings.
That’s a lot of competition. And LinkedIn doesn’t give you a whole lot of space to sell yourself beyond a bio, a box of skills, and a list of your current and previous experiences.
So what are recruiters looking for when they look on LinkedIn for potential job candidates? We decided to ask them.
Here, LinkedIn recruiters and C-suite execs talk about what they’re looking for when they turn to LinkedIn for their hiring needs.
9 things job recruiters want to see on LinkedIn
Increase your chances of getting a job on LinkedIn with these nine tips.
A professional headshot
First things first, you need a professional headshot. This should be a professionally taken (or at least a professional-looking) photo of you that gives recruiters and anyone looking to hire for a job role a sense of who you are.
“A professional headshot indicates that the person is serious about their career and presents themselves well online,” says Shaun Martin, the CEO of Denver Home Buyer.
Be sure that your headshot fits your industry, however. If you’re someone who works in a creative field, wearing a very business-formal outfit for your LinkedIn headshot might send the wrong message. And vice versa. If your job requires you to dress formally, and you wear something informal in your photo, it might not give recruiters the sense that you’re serious about your work.
Your photo should be of you and only you. It should be up-to-date and clear, as well.
A compelling headline
Your headline is the professional title you give yourself that sits below your headshot.
“When a potential employer sees your headline, they get an idea of how you consider yourself professionally,” says Candice Moses, the CMO of Information. “Just your present title and sector aren’t enough for a prospective employer; you should aim for something more distinctive. As a result, take advantage of your headline to set yourself apart from the competition.”
In fact, all of your headlines should be engaging—not just your main one. Each experience headline should accurately reflect your title or former title based on industry expectations (not what your employers have labeled you).
“Different organizations refer to the same roles in different ways,” Moses says. “Your job title on LinkedIn should reflect what your industry calls your position, not what it is named within your company.”
A to-the-point summary
Your summary should be one of the first things a recruiter reads on your LinkedIn, as it pops up at the top of your profile.
“As a recruiter, I mainly search for a combination of job titles, skills, and other keywords to find the right candidate for the job—so a LinkedIn summary that is keyword-rich is bound to stand out and score an interview,” says Mimi Paul, a systems operator for the recruiting firm, Starkflow.
Because LinkedIn shows the first three lines of your profile summary before recruiters can click to see more, she says that it’s imperative that the first 300 characters of your summary need to be strong enough to grab her attention and make her want to learn even more about you.
“In the profile summary, the candidate should add context to their career trajectory, show off accomplishments, and add what makes them great at their job,” she explains.
However, it’s easy to get carried away—or even feel a little lost—when it comes to writing your summary.
“This is where the majority of people go astray,” Moses says. “The summary is where you explain what you do, what you hope to accomplish, and what you bring to the table in your professional life. Keeping in mind that LinkedIn is a professional networking site is essential. Nothing that isn’t directly related to your job hunt should be included.”
Endorsed skills and recommendations
“Endorsements and recommendations from others vouch for the person’s skills and qualifications,” Martin explains.
Plus, when people take the time to endorse skills on your profile or leave recommendations for you, it shows that you’re appreciated by your peers. And Thomas adds that recruiters “want to see if candidates are well-liked and respected by their peers.”
Of course, recruiters can only take others’ word for a candidate so far. But this is an important step in deciding whether or not they want to carry on with an interview to see for themselves.
“It’s difficult to gauge someone’s entire personality through a single LinkedIn profile—so, I try not to base my judgment on it until I interview the candidate… Still, what stands out to me the most is the person’s experience,” says Patrick Wilson, the Hiring Director of SkillCourses, noting that he also reads the recommendations that others have given candidates based on those experiences. If they’re positive, he’ll move forward with scheduling an interview to really see how passionate they are.
Your experiences are the big one.
“When looking at a job candidate’s profile on LinkedIn, the first thing recruiters will look at is their skills and experiences,” says Brenton Thomas, founder, and CEO of Twibi. “They want to see if the candidate has the right skill set for the job they are applying for.”
But filling out your experiences isn’t just about quickly filling out the fields. You want to make sure that you carefully color your whole profile.
“A complete profile shows that the person is willing to put in the extra effort to present themselves well on LinkedIn,” Martin says. “A complete profile also allows you to get a better sense of the person’s professional background and qualifications.”
A completed profile should paint the whole picture for recruiters. They should be able to get a sense of who you are, not only as a professional but also as a person.
“When I’m looking for good candidates for a position on LinkedIn, I’m looking not only for relevant experience and job skills but also for a sense of who this person is and what motivates them,” says Josh Snead, CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance. “It’s important to find someone who will fit not only the job but also the company culture.”
What stands out to him the most is a LinkedIn profile that goes beyond listing skills and experience, he says. He also wants to be able to read from it the values you hold “in the workplace and beyond.”
John Ricco, the co-founder of Atlantic Group, agrees that “injecting a little personality into your profile” helps recruiters “see a little humanity through the professional veneer.” Just remember to keep it all concise. Complete doesn’t have to mean clutter.
“The first and most important thing to do is to build an outwardly ‘professional’ looking profile and to keep it updated,” he says. “Your profile should also feature a clear, but most importantly concise, title so that I can quickly evaluate what you do and the industry you work in to work out if you might be a good fit. I will not be reading through paragraph after paragraph to try and work out if I want to reach out to you or not.”
Industry involvement can mean engaging on the platform by posting, being active in groups, participating in discussions, and more.
“LinkedIn recruiters also want to see how engaged the candidate is with their network—they want to see if the candidate is active in groups and discussions and if they are regularly sharing relevant content,” Thomas adds.
After all, activity suggests openness to opportunities.
“Active users are more likely to be engaged with their professional networks and are generally more open to new opportunities,” Martin explains. And that’s precisely the kind of image you want to create for yourself.
“Another important factor that LinkedIn recruiters will look at is the connections the candidate has,” Thomas says. “They want to see if the candidate is connected to any influential people in their industry.”
Martin agrees, suggesting that “a strong network indicates that the person is well-connected and has a good reputation within their industry.”
One surefire way to establish strong connections and networks on LinkedIn is by branding yourself well and surrounding yourself with professionals in your space.
“When looking for job candidates on LinkedIn, I am looking for people who have a strong online presence and are active in the LinkedIn community,” says Jie Min, CTO at Airgram. Part of this for Min means finding candidates who seem to have a strong personal brand—as well as an ability to articulate that personal brand well. “I look for people who have a strong network of connections and are well-connected within their industry.”
One thing to remember, Phillip Imler, the founder, and president of the Global Alliance of National Parks, adds is that you can learn a lot from different people. Connecting with them can open up doors.
“I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to understand the art of networking with others—it is one of the best strategies for capturing the attention of hiring managers as it implies that you are an authoritative expert in your field,” he says. “Increase your network and get to know more people by researching industry organizations, connecting with people on LinkedIn, or joining a community.”
You can begin by reaching out to people in your close circle. From there, he recommends gradually expanding and exploring other reliable networks. He also suggests hosting webinars, joining local groups, or creating blogs to help establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Make sure all of the information on your LinkedIn is up to date—still relevant and accurate.
“As recruitment partners, our remit is to find candidates who are the best technical and cultural match for a role,” says Tony Tynan, operations director at Berkley Recruitment. “Naturally, it is those candidates who dedicate time and effort into maintaining their profiles that stand to benefit the most from LinkedIn. To give yourself the best chance of catching the eye of a recruiter/hiring manager in your field, make sure to complete all the sections of your profile and keep it up to date.”
Because LinkedIn is frequently launching new features, Tynan also advises you to make use of them so you can stand out from the crowd. For example, he suggests you try adding the name pronunciation tool, personal pronouns, or a cover story.
Longevity refers to staying with one company or within one industry for an extended period of time. Even if you don’t have longevity to prove with a company, there are ways that you can show your commitment to your field through volunteer work, group activity, and more.
“We are looking for longevity,” says Nate Nead, CEO of Recruiters. co. “[Being] with a company for multiple years is a great signal as to whether they will turn out quality work for one of our clients. It also shows at least some level of employer loyalty. Apart from a resume or a great LinkedIn profile, longevity is one of the things I pay attention to the most.”
After all, demonstrating longevity offers some indication that you can stick around with your new employer, too.
“The first most important thing that you are looking for while hiring new candidates through LinkedIn is their long-term potential,” says Leslie Radka, the founder and hiring manager of GreatPeopleSearch.
If you’re not sure where to get started with your own LinkedIn, check out our resources on sprucing up your profile. We tell you everything from common LinkedIn mistakes to avoid to how to make your LinkedIn next-level.
You can also check out our webinar, “3 Secrets to Building Your Career Through Networking on LinkedIn.”