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


Social network recruiters search the LinkedIn database for candidates that have a specific set of qualifications and/or keywords 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 the search results? 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.

Recruiters search for and choose job candidates in a very similar way. To search through a database of resumes or job candidate profiles, they type their keywords into a search box. Then, they scan the search results, clicking on those that are most appealing and relevant to the jobs they are filling.

After more reviews and, usually, a Google search on candidate names, they reach out to the candidates to begin the hiring process. Read Managing Your Google Resume for more on how to succeed in this part of the process.

Typically, like everyone who does an online search, recruiters pay the closest attention to the first page of search results, with less attention (sometimes MUCH less attention) paid to the second and subsequent pages. Your appearance on the first few pages of results is very important to your visibility to recruiters.

More on how sourcing works: Get “Sourced” to Get Hired and How to Find Jobs Working With Recruiters, Head Hunters, and Staffing Firms.

Back to LinkedIn….

Recruiters search the LinkedIn database in several different ways.

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

Many others are using LinkedIn’s paid service called LinkedIn Recruiter that provides significantly more search functionality. And still others (called “sourcers”) find candidates in LinkedIn using Google to search 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.

For more on LinkedIn optimization, read 10 Steps to Successful LinkedIn SEO and 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 complete (a.k.a. “All Star” in LinkedIn terminology) 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, particularly of jobs in their past. This wastes a golden opportunity to promote their experience and to add important keywords to their Profiles.
  • Use the keywords that tie to your desired job, industry, and profession. These keywords could be inserted in different areas within your Profile such as your job descriptions, Profile Summary, Professional 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: Choosing the Best Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile.]
  • Be well connected. Inside LinkedIn, search results include only the people who are connected to you as first, second, and third degree connections. So, the more connections you have, the greater the likelihood that you will appear in someone’s search results, even if they are a third degree connection. [MORE: Refusing or Accepting LinkedIn Connections?]
  • Use a professional headshot. 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 and LinkedIn Profile Photos for Job Seekers Over 50.]
  • Make your Professional Headline effective. 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 — and include important keywords. [MORE: Maximize Your LinkedIn Professional Headline and Fast Formula to a More Powerful LinkedIn Headline.]

Read Improve Your Ranking in LinkedIn Searches in 10 Steps for a details on how to effectively leverage your LinkedIn Profile to be found by recruiters.

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:

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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