→August 30,2011 update–this article has been read over 25,000 times and the tips and tricks to optimize your LinkedIn profile are still applicable today.
LinkedIn continues to gain momentum as a resource utilized by both internal and external recruiters to find well qualified candidates. A quality LinkedIn profile is quickly becoming an essential element of a complete career marketing package.
Like a resume, a LinkedIn profile serves as a summary of your work history. Both your resume and your LinkedIn profile need to be well-organized, well thought out, and well written. Although a resume will typically go into greater detail of accomplishments, a LinkedIn profile needs to offer enough facts to drive further action by recruiters.
As every job seeker is hopefully aware, when resumes are submitted to corporations or job boards, they are then filtered by Applicant Tracking Software.(ATS) The software looks for “key words” to decide which of the thousands of resumes being reviewed, deserves a personal review by the recruiting or hiring manager. There are great resources on the Internet to help job seekers identify for inclusion, commonly searched key words utilized by ATS systems. These resources will be make specific keyword suggestions based on the position a job seeker is targeting. However, in the end, once the resume is submitted, it is a bit of a “black box” in terms of how your resume is actually parsed. So although, you may attempt to include all the right keywords to go to the top of the pile, a candidate is never really sure how a particular ATS system will treat their resume.
Conversely, LinkedIn profiles are not a black box. A simple audit will allow you to see which queries bring your profile to the first few pages of a search. Try it.
• Go to the peoples tab and hit advanced search.
• Now enter a keyword or keywords associated with your targeted position. Ex: customer service manager
• Now enter a geography zip code and a distance quotient. 50 miles is a reasonable choice.
• Then select an industry or multiple industries that apply to you. Understand the broader you make your search the lower your ranking will be.
• Now hit search. Can you find yourself in the first few pages of the LinkedIn results?
Now look at the top few names that have appeared and open their profiles. By looking at the highlighted words, you will see the criteria that LinkedIn used to filter the search. As of today, LinkedIn appears to scan only four categories: Professional Headline, Titles, Specialties and Industries. LinkedIn scans these categories for frequency of the keywords selected. In our example: customer service manager.
So what do you do with this information? The simple answer is optimize these four LinkedIn categories with the keywords that you believe a recruiter would most likely use when looking to fill the employment position you are targeting. If you invest an hour to insert the keywords to make sure you show up in the first few pages of a LinkedIn search for the position, geography and industry you are targeting, you will increase your chances of being found.
Now remember, a quality job search strategy encompasses both pull and push marketing. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is only one important component of a “pull marketing” job search strategy. Never forget as a job seeker, you should focus the majority of your time and effort on a “push marketing” campaign focused on targeted job search networking.