LinkedIn is one of several tools that most recruiters use when searching for talent for their clients. Contrary to what most people think, for many recruiters LinkedIn is as much of a secondary or confirmation tool as it is a primary tool for some who are in the recruiting business. By that I mean that when a recruiter finds someone through another source, that recruiter will often look at that person’s profile on LinkedIn to gain more knowledge or to confirm what he or she already learned through his or her primary source.
Whether LinkedIn is the primary or secondary source for candidate information, there are several key points of information that a recruiter looks for in evaluating candidates. If you are an actively looking for a career change or if you are not actively looking but are receptive to hearing about outstanding opportunities, these key elements of your LinkedIn profile will often determine whether recruiters and/or hiring managers put you on their contact list or skip your profile altogether. The first group of “rules” is all about your photo:
11. Have one. Various surveys have consistently revealed that your profile is five to seven times more likely to be viewed and examined if you have a photo than if you do not have one. I very rarely look at profiles that do not have photos. However, if you do have one, keep these guidelines in mind?
A. Have a good headshot photo...you from the shoulders up. The purpose of the photo is not to determine how attractive you are, but rather to see if you have a professional appearance, that you cared enough to do it right, and that you are not sporting blue hair and a nose ring. There are jobs where blue hair and a nose ring might be assets, but those positions are rarely assigned to recruiters.
B. Your photo should be just you and no one else…not even anyone else’s hand or arm on your shoulder. A photo that has clearly been cropped to show just you out of a group tells the viewer that you did not care enough to do it right, and that is never a good way to advertise yourself.
C. No tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses, motorcycles, children, party scenes, dogs, or graduation photos. Again, anything other than an intentional headshot makes it appear that you put the photo in as an afterthought rather than as an intentional, professional statement.
2.2. Put your email address in the “Contact Information” portion of your profile, and make sure it is a personal email address…not your email address through your employer. No recruiter wants to do anything that would jeopardize your current employment. Many company email servers are set up to scan all emails for inappropriate content, and for a lot of companies, that includes recruiters or anyone else contacting you about other career opportunities. Remember, your company email address belongs to your employer, not to you, and they can read anything they choose that is on their server. Most recruiters will tell you that they have a much higher response/reply rate from emails than they do from LinkedIn in-mails, and that email is the much-preferred contact option. There is a section in your profile called “Contact Info”. Use it to add your personal email.
33. If you provide information about a former position, do not provide it in the present tense. You are not there anymore, and a description that sounds like you are there is, once again, a sign that you are not about doing things the right way.
44. No deceptive degrees. Many times I have seen profiles that list the person’s name followed “MBA” or “BS in Electrical Engineering then later in the profile it will state something like “expected completion May 2016.” That is simply another way of saying that you do not have the degree. Recruiters and hiring managers are interested in now, not a year and a half in the future.
55. Most of the better recruiters know their clients’ preferences very well. They know what they like, what they do not like, and the specific skills, experience, or character qualities that will be a good fit for that client. So, in addition to listing where you have worked and what your responsibilities were, also add the specific, transferable skills that you learned and applied in that job. Nobody cares where you worked or what you did there unless you can tell them how your experience in that position gave you valuable skills that you can bring with you to a new position.
66. No spelling, punctuation, word use, or grammar errors. Incomplete phrases that are clearly part of a part of a pattern of similar phrases for the sake of brevity are fine, but be sure to use the correct form of all the words. The most common errors I see are “too -- to” and “there -- their.” Often even spell checking programs will not catch those errors. The spelling may be correct, but the form of the word is not.
77. If you are open to receiving inquiries from recruiters, include “Career Opportunities” in the “Contact for” section of your profile.
88. Keep your profile current. If you receive a promotion, change jobs, or relocate, update your information.
99. No information about your nationality, family, or marital status. Questions about those areas are illegal to ask about in an interview, and there is no benefit to you gained by volunteering this information.
1110. Get some recommendations from those you have worked with in the past. That includes associates and supervisors, customers and clients, vendors, or anyone else who can provide a personal insight into what you do well, how you work with others, or any specific skills that set you apart from others.
We are in a strong buyer’s market now. That means that employers can be, and are, very selective in considering prospective employees. The better your profile, the greater your chances of being contacted about that position that may be the right job for you.