There are roughly 722 million people on LinkedIn. Given the past year, with its historic spikes in unemployment, there are more job seekers on it than ever, all clamoring to establish themselves as bankable, reputable employees. So how do you get a leg up? By paying attention to the small details and taking advantage of the networking site’s algorithms. These LinkedIn profile tips, offered by resume and recruiting experts, offer advice on just those points. From maximizing the three-to-five sentences of your summary to following the XYZ rule these pointers will help you gain the eye of prospective employers and put your best self forward.
1. Sharpen your summary
Think of your LinkedIn summary as the tagline of your professional career. It’s what the hiring manager will see and think “blockbuster” or just “bust.” This three-to-five sentence rundown is important, as it should detail the best you have to offer. “Sentence one should talk about who you are — it’s an overview statement including years of experience and career focus,” says Matthew Warzel, president of MJW Careers, LLC, which specializes in polishing and creating effective resumes. “Sentences two-to-three should describe what you can achieve and what you can do for companies that hire you, and the final sentences should highlight your unique skill sets or areas of expertise.” Take your time crafting it. It should be short and sweet.
2. Set up a custom URL
Remember back in the day when all you could get for a site was https://www.angelfire.com/limpbizkitfan? Now, thanks to Wix, Squarespace, and other such website building and hosting sites, it’s incredibly easy to design a personal page with a custom URL that can be linked right from your profile. “Creating a custom URL with your name or short tagline allows LinkedIn to act as an online, up-to-date version of your resume for employers and clients,” offers Anthony Babbitt, who runs Babbitt Consulting, a boutique consulting firm for businesses and executives. Your website can also be used on business cards and other media to keep your brand consistent, and to get your name into as many recruiting offices as possible.
3. Use the X-Y-Z formula
Almost 80 percent of recruiters rely heavily on LinkedIn to scout candidates, which means they go through hundreds of resumes a day. According to Babbitt, the X-Y-Z trick will make yours stand out because it will actually be interesting to read. The key is phrasing it as such, he says: I accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z. “So, instead of saying, ‘I managed a team of 20 people…’, you could say, ‘Lead a team of 20 people by employing service leadership, modeling behavior, open-door communication, and proactive problem resolution.’” See? You sound more accomplished already.
4. Recommend and endorse generously
Thumbs up-ing someone’s shared advice, a former colleague’s new job, or other such information that appears on the LinkedIn newsfeed as well as endorsing those you have worked with and would be happy to recommend, is just a nice practice. But such things carry actual weight when employers are scouring your profile, too. In fact, the more you have, the better you look. The best way to get them is to give them.
“LinkedIn’s algorithm pays attention to recommendations and endorsements because they’re not self-promotion,” says Babbitt. “They’re provided by other people, so you can’t fake them. And people tend to endorse or recommend you after you do the same for them. It’s a ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ thing, and it can help you secure a higher place in a recruiter’s candidate results.”
5. Don’t get cute
LinkedIn is not Facebook or Instagram. This is a point Warzel wants to drive home: “It’s a professional networking site for professionals.” That means, when it comes to sharing on the platform, it’s wise to share insights, advice, and content that offers value and helps employers see your worth, not selfies and motivational quotes. Posting to the LinkedIn feed is a good wary to get noticed. If you’re struggling with what to post, consider the concept of dwell time, or the calculated duration of time that each user spends looking at an update or link, which is then factored into an algorithm that defines what each user sees on his/her/their feed. “By posting content that engages with others, you’ll be hanging around longer and appearing more frequently,” says Warzel. “Slideshows are currently very popular for that reason.”
6. Become a fan of the company
If you hope to work for a certain company, become a fan of it on LinkedIn. Follow its announcements. Share their posts. Like their content. On LinkedIn, Warzel recommends following their page, sharing their posts, and liking their content. “Someone on the other end is definitely paying attention,” he says. “Eventually, you can DM them or repost content and genuinely add, ‘I’m a big fan of your company and wanted to ask if there are any ways I can stand out in the hiring process.’” Studies have shown, per Warzel, that engaging with companies does get noticed by the actual humans doing the posting. “Ultimately,” he adds, “it helps in building a genuine relationship that can lead to employment.”
7. Be active in job groups
LinkedIn’s nearly 600 million active members are involved in more than two million existing groups, with as many as 8,000 new ones sprouting each week. Join one, urges Warzel. “Job seekers can maximize their social media presence by joining groups, putting out a post to their network and making new connections,” says Warzel. He adds that groups can be great places to show your abilities to offer problem solutions, pose progressive questions, and leverage thought leadership to heighten conversations. You never know who might be watching.
8. List every certification
Lean Sigma Six Black belt? List it. CPR certified? List it. According to Babbitt, the point is to make yourself appear in as many searches as possible. “LinkedIn uses a keyword algorithm to match profiles to job descriptions,” he explains. “The more repetitive words you use, and the larger variety of searchable terms in your profile, the more likely you are to come up in searches. Languages, volunteer work, areas of interest. Add everything.”
9. Build your connections
If your profile lacks connections it’s not going to be taken as seriously as you want. Babbitt recommends upping your count by searching for LIONs — LinkedIN Open Networkers. These will accept connections from almost anyone, he says, and once you exceed 500 connections, your badge changes to ‘500+’. ”If a recruiter is looking at two profiles — one has more than 500 connections and the other has 64 – the first one will seem more experienced, sought after, and easier to work with.”
10. Take skill quizzes
Earning a badge on a LinkedIn quiz is a genuine sign of accomplishment. “Skill quizzes only award badges to the top 30 percent of quiz takers, so they are viewed as signs of competence,” says Babbitt. “LinkedIn also uses skill quizzes to match candidates to potential jobs, making them stand out among the potential applicants.” The quizzes are short, but thorough enough to improve your chances of being viewed as an expert
11. Use links wherever possible
That means: Link to your profile to everything from your blog, to Google documents, to content articles, to multimedia presentations. What’s the benefit? “Links help your profile appear in Google searches, and also allow recruiters to verify information,” says Babbitt. “If you have certifications, link to those. And always link to the most current version of your resume or CV.” When clients or employers can download resumes or letters of recommendation directly from your profile, it makes the process easier for them, which is a great way to gain a little bit of goodwill during the hiring process.
12. Run your photo through the right system
Finally. The photo. According to Warzel, you should aim to make your mug appear “professional, competent, likable, and influential.” He also suggests a blank background, and a chest up portrait.” Once you have a few options, he suggests using PhotoFeeler. It’s a website that allows you to upload your photo so other registered users can view it and rate how you appear based on relevant, employer-approved criteria such as trustworthiness, intelligence, likability, and competence.