Whether they’re actively job seeking, awaiting recruitment, or grooming their professional persona, LinkedIn is where serious professionals come together. Recruiters know it. 87% of recruiters use the platform to vet and source job candidates, more than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat combined.
Simply being on LinkedIn is not enough. To catch the eye of a recruiter or hiring manager, job seekers must cut through the noise of half a billion LinkedIn users, including the 3.4 million privately signaling to recruiters that they’re seeking new opportunities.
How LinkedIn Search Works
Ranking highly in a LinkedIn search requires optimizing for both LinkedIn’s technology and the human tendencies of recruiters. LinkedIn’s proprietary 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 and hiring managers 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. An in-house recruiter might perform broader searches in a third-party app like Connectifier that incorporates LinkedIn.
While sourcing techniques vary, virtually everyone uses LinkedIn while vetting job applicants or resume submissions. In any of these scenarios, a job seeker can improve his or her search ranking by optimizing key sections of their LinkedIn profile.
Headline and Job Titles
The profile headline and most recent job title are weighted heavily in LinkedIn’s search algorithms as well as recruiter behavior.
The headline is a key search field and the first major piece of information seen in search results alongside the name and profile photo. You have 120 characters to use in your 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.’”
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.”
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.
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 profile summary. Skills and keywords listed in your “Featured Skills & Endorsements” section are not searchable but can still be useful for hiring managers and recruiters during the vetting process.
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.
“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.
You can’t qualify for localized searches without adding your location on your LinkedIn profile. Similarly, listing your actual 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.
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 printed 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?
Over 2,500 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 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.”
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.