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How to Be Found More Easily in LinkedIn (LinkedIn SEO)

By Marci Reynolds

Social network recruiters search the LinkedIn database for candidates that have a specific set of qualifications and/or key words in their Profile.

After searching the database, recruiters get served with "search results" that include a Profile view for each candidate.

As a job seeker, you want to consistently show up in search results for candidates with your set of qualifications, ideally higher than other candidates. This is often called LinkedIn SEO, or improving your LinkedIn search rank.

And, you want to stand out from the other candidates and engage the interest of the recruiters so they click on your Profile snapshot to learn more and, eventually, to get to your full Profile information.

This article will share my insights on this LinkedIn sourcing process and provide advice on how you can show up and stand out!

How does LinkedIn "sourcing" work? How do recruiters search the database?

To better understand the LinkedIn sourcing, search results concept; think about how you search online job boards for job postings. You go to a website (ex. Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.), you enter a series of keywords, you might also click on an industry or job function from a drop down box, and you then get presented with a series of job listings.

Do you click on all of them? Likely not. Instead, you only click on those that catch your eye and are most relevant. You probably pay more attention to the listings on the first few pages, and may not even consider the ones on pages 3, 4, 5, etc.


Back to LinkedIn….

Recruiters search the LinkedIn database in a several different ways.

For example, some of them use the free, "Advanced People Search" function available to all LinkedIn members. Some search members and activities within specific LinkedIn Groups.

[MORE: 6 Great Benefits of LinkedIn Groups and How to Be a Successful LinkedIn Groupie.]

Many others are using LinkedIn's paid service called LinkedIn Recruiter that provides significantly more search functionality. (I recommend that job seekers watch the demo video to learn more about the product.) And still others find candidates in LinkedIn using a Google site search of LinkedIn.

In addition, similar to the way job seekers sign up for "job alerts" to get notified via email whenever a new job gets posted that meets a certain set of criteria, recruiters can also sign up for candidate alerts to proactively notify them of new candidates who fit their requirements.

[MORE: 7 Ways to Attract Recruiters on LinkedIn.]

How can you optimize your LinkedIn Profile to align with this sourcing process?

There are many things a job seeker can do to optimize their Profile to align with this sourcing process. As mentioned before, you want to help ensure that you show up in the appropriate search results, show up higher than other candidates (LinkedIn SEO), and you want to stand out among the search results.

You want the recruiters to see your Profile snapshot and think, "Wow, there’s the perfect candidate," and then click to view your full Profile information.

Consider these tips:

  • Your Profile should be 100% "complete" (a.k.a. "All Star") per LinkedIn standards.
  • Include a detailed work history, with clear job titles and well-written job descriptions that describe both your responsibilities and your key accomplishments. Most people stop at dates and job titles, wasting this opportunity to promote their experience and to add important keywords to their Profiles.
  • Within your Profile verbiage, include the keywords that tie to your desired industry and profession. These keywords could be inserted in different areas within your Profile such as your job descriptions, Profile summary, headline and even your website descriptions. One of the best methods to find these keywords is to review recent job descriptions for the roles you are targeting and see what keywords are repeated over and over again.

    [MORE: How to Identify EXACTLY the Right Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile.]
  • Most experts believe that users with more connections and more recommendations show up higher in the search results. I could not find any LinkedIn endorsed statements to back this up, but intuitively it makes sense. It’s also possible that Recruiters may only want to view candidates that have a minimum number of either one.

    [MORE: Refusing or Accepting LinkedIn Connections?]
  • You’ve probably heard the saying "dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Very good advice! Do you have a professional, flattering Profile photo that looks like you already have the role you're seeking? Do you look like a VP, Sales, for a technology company? Do you look like Head of Creative for a cutting edge advertising agency, OR might you need a photo makeover? This is an area where I recommend that you seek the feedback of a professional or objective source that will be honest about your online image. Don’t leave anything up to chance!

    [MORE: How Recruiters View Your LinkedIn Photo.]
  • Does your headline effectively market your skills and abilities or is it, blah? Are you a "Marketing Professional" or a "Global Marketing Leader | Social Media Enthusiast | Online Advertising Guru " Just a few additional words can make the headline, much more powerful.

    [MORE: Maximize Your LinkedIn Professional Headline.]

In the job search, you need to market yourself like a company would market a product or service. Think of how many million dollars are spent each year to develop exciting taglines for products. Your LinkedIn headline is like your personal tagline.

  • Avoid using slashes between critical keywords, for example, "sales/marketing." I’ve noticed that the LinkedIn search technology does not always recognize the two words separately. Instead, use a comma with a space or, one of the nifty vertical slashes with spaces, like "sales | marketing."
  • Don’t put a fake job in the "current job" section. I have seen a number of job seekers who put something like "Next Growth Oriented Company" or "My Next Job" as their most current company. This may negatively impact whether you come up in search results, and does not make a good first impression on the recruiters who do find you.

    [MORE: The Best LinkedIn Job Title When You Are Unemployed.]

Bottom Line

By following these Profile optimization tips, you increase the likelihood that you will show up positively in the search results, when recruiters are sourcing candidates that match your set of qualifications, education and experiences. I also recommend that job seekers learn more about the LinkedIn Recruiter software and how it’s used. Knowledge is power!

More about Keywords:

Keywords in LinkedIn Profiles:

LinkedIn and Your Resume:

About the author...

Marci Reynolds has her MBA from Bentley University with a concentration in managing operations & technology and her BS, Business & Marketing from Northeastern University. She also holds Six Sigma Greenbelt and HubSpot Inbound Marketing certifications.

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