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What do recruiters look for on your LinkedIn profile?

Often candidates can be found on LinkedIn by an employer before a job has even been advertised

LinkedIn has evolved in recent years from primarily a platform for recruitment, to a site for building your professional profile and industry ranking.

Many professionals are using LinkedIn to establish themselves as ‘thought leaders’ in their field, some becoming mini-celebrities in finance, HR, marketing, business leadership etc. as they attract followers and make valuable connections.

But at its heart LinkedIn is still about progressing your career, whether that’s by using it as an online CV, making new contacts, or building your professional reputation.

For recruiters, it is a great tool for sourcing candidates and for vetting candidates that have applied for a specific role. Here at Howett Thorpe we find LinkedIn invaluable for sourcing ‘passive’ candidates – individuals who are not actively looking for a new job but for the right opportunity would consider a move. Often candidates can be found on LinkedIn by an employer before a job has even been advertised.

This means that for ‘active’ candidates – job seekers who are looking for a role – it’s a crowded marketplace. Not only are you competing for roles with other job hunters; you’re also competing with people who are not even looking for a job.
That’s why it’s really important to get your LinkedIn profile in shape so that recruiters not only find you, but also get enough information from your profile to make contact with you.

Here’s what they’re looking for:

A professional photo, no selfies!

I think some people have confused LinkedIn with Facebook, which may explain why selfies, photos taken on holiday, and blurry snaps have become increasingly common.

Your LinkedIn profile is your professional profile and therefore your photo should be professional. Head and shoulders are best, looking approachable (smiling is OK), and dressed appropriately.

Use your headline to say what you do

Your headline, the text that appears under your name, works in two ways. Firstly, it can help you be found. So if a recruiter searches for ‘Financial Controller’ your profile will come up in the results. Secondly it is an opportunity to engage recruiters by summing up what you do.

Not a list of your day-to-day activities, but the value you bring to your role. For example, ‘Financial Controller supporting growth and driving efficiencies at xyz.’ This sums up the difference you can make to a potential employer, and will instantly stand out from all those profiles that just include a job title and company name.

A clear, concise summary

Recruiters typically scan LinkedIn profiles, spending on average just 6 seconds before making a decision about whether to contact someone or not. Use the summary field to provide an overview of your skills and experience, focusing on the things that are relevant to your job search, so they can instantly see if you have what they’re looking for.

Write your summary in the first person, this is more engaging for readers, and don’t be afraid to inject some personality into it. Recruiters are not only looking for candidates with the right skills and experience, but also people who will be a good fit for their company.

Make sure it all adds up

Just as with your CV, your LinkedIn profile should not have any discrepancies such as time unaccounted for. Also make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile say the same thing. If a recruiter is vetting your CV by checking your online profiles, discrepancies such as dates not matching or different job titles are a red flag.

Avoid buzzwords

Nothing annoys a recruiter more than seeing another LinkedIn profile saying the candidate is ‘focused’, or ‘passionate’, or ‘strategic’. These are just hollow empty words that don’t mean anything unless backed up with clear evidence of how these relate to your role. Avoid the buzzwords and jargon and explain soft skills in plain English.

If this has inspired you to update your LinkedIn profile, a quick word of warning! If your current employer doesn’t know you’re looking for a new job, updating your LinkedIn profile is a sure-fire way of letting them know!

You can avoid this problem by turning off ‘Sharing Profile Edits’ in your privacy settings. This prevents your LinkedIn network being notified every time you tweak your profile.

By Greg Thorpe, managing director of Howett Thorpe

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