How do recruiters find you on LinkedIn? You need an optimized profile.

LinkedIn is where motivated professionals come together and recruiters know it. 87% of recruiters use the platform to find or vet job candidates, more than all other major social media networks combined. If you’re serious about your job search, simply having a LinkedIn profile is not enough. To get found by recruiters on LinkedIn, you must cut through the noise of half a billion LinkedIn users.

Recruiters use search terms and filters to find the right candidates. Landing in a recruiter’s search results doesn’t have to be a matter of happenstance. By crafting a search optimized LinkedIn profile, you can rank more highly for the types of jobs you’re most interested in.

How LinkedIn Recruiter Search Works

Ranking highly in a LinkedIn search requires optimizing for both LinkedIn’s tech and the human tendencies of recruiters. LinkedIn’s search algorithms consider a variety of profile sections and user activity to rank their results, while recruiters have their own preferences and tricks to compile lists of top candidates.

There is no standard for how different recruiters utilize LinkedIn search, particularly for sourcing candidates. A small business hiring manager might use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to find job candidates within their network. An agency recruiter might pay for LinkedIn Recruiter to expand their networking and search capabilities. While sourcing techniques vary, virtually everyone uses LinkedIn during the hiring process. In any of these scenarios, you can improve your search ranking by optimizing key sections of your LinkedIn profile.

Headline and Job Titles

The profile headline and recent job title are weighted heavily in LinkedIn’s search algorithms as well as recruiter behavior. A recruiter is likely to begin their search with specific job titles, and candidates with a matching job title in their headline and experience headings will appear higher in results.

The headline is the first major piece of information seen in search results alongside the name and profile photo. You have 120 characters to use in your LinkedIn headline, plenty of space to communicate exactly what you do, your specializations, and/or what role you’re pursuing.

The next most prominent piece of information shown in search results is current and past job titles, which might be weighted more heavily in LinkedIn’s search algorithm than the headline.

“I would argue that [the job title] is your most important field, and would strongly recommend that you use the 100 characters to its full potential,” wrote Levi Lewis, a search engine expert who researched LinkedIn’s search functions during his own job search. “Instead of project manager I might say ‘Project Manager, ecommerce customer experience for checkout, cart, and post-order.’”

LinkedIn Recruiter search - keywords
LinkedIn Recruiter top results for a “Data Scientist” keyword search in Seattle, WA. Top candidates have the job title/keyword in their headline, current job title, and at least one past job title.

Beyond adding additional information into your job title fields, the specific wording of your job titles can also be important. It is acceptable to tweak your job title to incorporate common terminology used in your industry.

“With title, there’s not necessarily a standardization,” Jonathan White, a senior recruiter with both agency and in-house experience, told Jobscan. “You can be a front end engineer, but maybe at your company they call you front end developers, software developers, or web developers. There’s a lot of different titles for any given skillset.”

Keywords

Past experience can give recruiters and hiring managers a good idea of a candidate’s capabilities, but they are highly likely to search for specific skills or keywords as well, either by using LinkedIn Recruiters built-in skills filtering or by plugging all relevant terms into the search bar.

“I go into a keyword search and put in different buzzwords that I pull from the specific job description,” says White. “If I was looking for a front end developer, I would put in Javascript, CSS, HTML, HTML5…”

LinkedIn Recruiter Skills
Skills filtering in LinkedIn Recruiter (Data Scientist).

Keywords make the biggest impact on LinkedIn search ranking when they appear in a profile headline or job title, but can also be placed in job descriptions and the LinkedIn profile summary. Skills and keywords listed in your “Skills & Endorsements” section are searchable but not weighted as highly as keywords in other sections.

Jobscan LinkedIn Optimization scans your LinkedIn profile and analyzes it against three or more job descriptions you provide, adding a level of keyword specificity lost in general advice and best practices.

LinkedIn optimization for recruiter search

Location

“When I searched for candidates in LinkedIn Recruiter, I’d typically begin with the location,” said White. “I’d keep it under a 20 mile radius. Sometimes I would even [search within] five miles.”

Recruiters aren’t only looking for the right skills, they’re looking for candidates who are likely to accept the job offer. Because of this, some recruiters are more likely to target local candidates at the beginning of their search.

LinkedIn Recruiter location filtering

You can’t qualify for localized searches without adding your location on your LinkedIn profile. Similarly, listing your current location rather than the city in which you’d like to work can have the same effect. Explaining to a recruiter that you are willing to commute or relocate is more effective than hoping they search broadly enough to find you.

You should also specify which cities you’re willing to relocate to in your “Career interests” settings. When logged into LinkedIn, click “Jobs” in the top navigation bar, then “Career interests” under the search bar to update your location preferences and other settings.

LinkedIn Jobs career interests location setting

Profile URL

LinkedIn profile default URLs are tidier now than they were in the past, but users are still wise to customize.

Creating a custom URL has benefits beyond the minimal effect it might have on a user’s ranking in LinkedIn search results. It looks better when included on a resume and helps your LinkedIn profile carry more weight in external search results . If a recruiter or hiring manager googles your name and position, a custom URL can help improve your profile’s rank. For example, change the default “…/john-doe-08b73111b/” to “…/john-doe-san-francisco” or “…/john-doe-project-manager”.

What else is keeping recruiters from finding you?

Thousands of job seekers have already optimized their LinkedIn profiles using Jobscan. The Jobscan LinkedIn profile report also checks for:

  • Measurable results
    • White: “Bullet points are good, but knowing what you really did and accomplished is even better.”
  • Job hopping and temp gigs that should be explained
    • White: “If they have changed jobs every year for the last five or six years, what’s gonna keep them here?”
  • Complete education info
    • As with location, forgetting to include your complete educational information (including grad date) could cause you to be filtered out of search results right off the bat.
  • Number of connections
    • Lewis: “The more common connections you have with a searcher (recruiter or hiring manager), the higher your profile will be in the results when they search words relevant to your profile.” Recruiters can also specify degrees of connection in their searches. The more connections you have, the more likely you’ll be a 2nd degree connection to a recruiter.

Ranking highly in a LinkedIn search is about knowing what information to spotlight for both the LinkedIn search algorithms and the recruiters themselves. LinkedIn users can improve their profile’s performance by strategically including key information in all the right places.


Check out Jobscan LinkedIn optimization to receive tips tailored to your profile and job search.

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