Do LinkedIn Profiles Help Job Search?

CN_Marc_v1_eI was recently speaking with a job seeker who tells me that she’s been getting a surprising number of contacts from companies and recruiters who find her profile on LinkedIn. While I know that LinkedIn can be an important tool for job search, her resounding success got me curious.

When I looked at her profile, I could see why employers were finding her. It’s a perfect example of what a good LinkedIn job search profile should look like – and what LinkedIn can do for you. So I thought you might like to know some of the basics to help with your own LinkedIn profile.

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So what’s so great about her LinkedIn profile?

First and foremost, she wrote it in a way that makes it easy for a recruiter / employer to find. As brilliant and exciting as your profile might be, if no one can find it, then it’s only doing a small part of the job that it could do for you.

It’s also easy for anyone to read and quickly absorb the important points. She makes good use of keywords / key phrases. She shows solid results-based accomplishments. And her pic looks like someone you’d probably want to work with them – eyes alert, good smile, professional but not stuffy.

As a total package, she paints a picture of someone I would want to hire. And, while it gives a good overview of her strong points, it doesn’t go on and on. Just enough to show that she has the skills I need, while also leaving room for me to want to find out more about her.

So what helpful elements does her profile contain?

While she has all the required elements filled in, these are the sections / elements that I think bring the most power to her online LinkedIn presence. And therefore, these are the ones I’d advise you to pay extra careful attention to – not that the others should be glossed over!

Your professional headline

For her professional headline, she uses three short titles, variations of what an ideal job title might be. The important thing is to use job titles that people would search for, and include enough specifics for the right job to find you. “Senior Retail Manager” or “Assistant Controller, CPA” or  “Director of Digital Media” are all good. “Unemployed manager” or “Will do anything for money” are not so good.

Make sure you also include your location in the “Location name” sub-section. And if you are open to relocation, you can use your current location and then lead off your Summary section with that information.

I also once knew someone who wanted to work in a particular city, so she used her desired city and the words “relocating) at the end of her professional headline. Again, the Summary section gave her a chance to explain a bit more.

Summary

In the case of our job seeker, her summary contains an intro paragraph in the first person summarizing strengths that employers would search for. Then she has a bulleted list of key accomplishments (things an employer would put in a job description).  After that, still within the Summary, she has a (differently) bulleted list of her strongest skills (keywords / key phrases that again an someone might search for) that she calls “Specialties.”

This is not a book, so do your best to keep it short enough to respect the reader’s time, but include enough skills / experience that a search engine or screener’s eyes would easily find them. Use job descriptions to help you spot good keywords / key phrases to use. This post will help:

 

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Job experience

This is like a mini resume. Emphasize your strengths. Make it easy for a recruiter / employer to quickly see things that are relevant to the position they need to fill. This article will help you think about what to include:

 

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Skills

Once again, list the skills that an employer would want to see. If you are great at hang gliding, as interesting as this is, I probably wouldn’t lead with that skill (unless you are looking for a job as an instructor in that field). You can use the same skills you highlighted in your Summary section.

Once again, job descriptions of jobs that you would like to get can help you decide which skills to list. You can also include a few additional ones here toward the end that might not be as sought-after nor listed specifically in job descriptions, but that you think are useful to the job.

Just don’t go on and on. Remember that LinkedIn profiles are meant to attract employer interest, so that they want to contact you. But too much and all over the place trying to impress, will come off as muddy. make it easy for them to see a strong candidate for their job opening.

Recommendations and endorsements

While she has some endorsements, she doesn’t have any recommendations. And it hasn’t stopped people from contacting her. If your background is strong, you don’t need all the bells and whistles, but if you can use the extra help, by all means add a few good recommendations from people you’ve worked for or with.

As for those endorsements, savvy recruiters have come to give them little value. Anyone can endorse you, even if they have no idea how good you are. BUT … having a few attached to the skills you’ve listed in the official Skills section, might help present a fuller picture.

What about volunteer work?

I just want to add a note about this. If the volunteer work very clearly includes skills that you would use in your next job, then by all means highlight it in some way – especially if it is what you’re doing currently. But if it only has a few of the skills or just is something you care about, you might want to make it a short, final section in your summary.

Recruiters and employers have LOTS of profiles to screen. So you want to draw as straight a line from you to an ideal job as you can. Lots of extra info may distract – unless it’s something noteworthy like winning an Olympic medal. A special accomplishment / award (even if not exactly that) can be added as an extra segment toward the end of your Summary.

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