Yesterday, Pete, a sales director in his late fifties, called to say he was discouraged that no employers were reaching out to him through LinkedIn. He knew that his friend Steve had received several calls from recruiters via his LinkedIn profile to discuss a job possibility, but no one contacted him. Pete wanted help to change his profile and write it more effectively so that recruiters would notice him. To date, that had not happened.
Once I looked at his profile, I immediately saw two significant errors:
- First, he wasn’t using the headline section to market himself effectively.
- Second, he had an incomplete work history section. In neither area had he used any keywords directly correlated to showing up in recruiter searches for potential job candidates. I reassured him that he could vastly improve the impact of his LinkedIn profile with crucial changes.
It’s essential that you understand just how powerful LinkedIn is as a career management tool, especially job hunting. It is a severe mistake to ignore your profile.
LinkedIn itself reports that six people are hired through LinkedIn every minute. In addition, over 90% of recruiters use the platform to find or vet job candidates. The profile headline and recent job titles are weighted heavily in LinkedIn’s search algorithms and recruiter behavior. A recruiter is likely to begin their search with specific job titles. Candidates with a matching job title in their headline and experience title headings will appear higher in results.
These facts make it apparent that you need to know the most effective ways to get your profile up to snuff so that employers can find you. For example, Pete learned to make appropriate changes to his headline and work experience. As a result, he quickly improved his success in getting employers’ attention.
Ready to up your LinkedIn game?
Your LinkedIn Headline
The headline is the most searched section on LinkedIn’s platform. Most people make the same mistake dealing with this crucial headline section. They do not understand how the site works and the importance of keywords in their headline. Most tell me they didn’t realize they could change the headline or that they should change it — big mistake. If you look under your name, LinkedIn by default lists your current job title and company, and that is your headline. You can and should change this.
The headline has a limit of 120 characters, so you need to utilize this space as effectively as possible. First, think about how you want to be known on LinkedIn. This headline is a summation of your personal branding. Next, you create the words or phrases that emphasize the jobs you target. Here are samples of what you should try to make for yourself.
Kathleen McMurphy, MBA
COO | VP Operations | Managing Director | Operations, Strategy, Business Development Executive | Chief Operating Officer | specializing in technology, biotech, and healthcare
2021 Communication Graduate from University of Texas | Communication Coordinator | Marketing Coordinator | Public Relations Coordinator | Marketing Specialist
As you review these examples, you understand what each person does. The headline distinguishes them clearly. So, whether you are an executive with a great deal of experience or just launching your career like Emily, use the appropriate job titles that identify the role you want.
As you develop your headline, use a few keywords. Notice the one thing used to break apart the titles, specialties, or taglines. That is the vertical line symbol: |. That symbol tells the search engines to keep those words together. So, when you select your keywords for your headline, separate them using the vertical line symbol.
Caution: When you add a new job to your work experience, a checked box automatically changes your headline to list this new job title as your headline. Be sure to uncheck it, so the new headline you have created does not get erased when you add a new job to your work history.
You can attract recruiters simply by making improvements to your headline. Don’t let the LinkedIn default headline remain on your page after your name. Always be sure to customize it.
Work Experience And Job Titles
You may be surprised to learn that 45% of people on LinkedIn have outdated information on their profiles. For example, do you have only job titles and company names with dates of employment listed? Are you emphasizing industry keywords and your top achievements?
A LinkedIn profile does not include everything in your resume, which is much more detailed than what is stated in your profile work description area. However, it is not just a job description. The secret sauce is dropping a few statements that show the results you delivered in that job and hit on your most significant accomplishments.
How to write it
Begin with the appropriate job title that reflects what you do on the job and not just the company title, which may have little relevance to the outside world. For example, you may be a Business Development Director, but your title fails to use those keywords. Adjust the tile, so it is truthful and accurately represents what you do.
Then move on to write your first sentence. Incorporate and list some of the top work tasks you perform on your job. Keep in mind the job you are going after when emphasizing those work skills.
Next, you need to identify two to four of your top accomplishments in this role. Use this formula as a guide: ACTIONS = RESULTS. Specify what your ACTIONS were and conclude with what the RESULT achieved was. Highlight the results that will be important so a recruiter or hiring manager will take notice. Did you save time or money? Maybe you made the company money. Did you make a change that saved time and made a process more effective? Perhaps you created something new to mention. These are the impressive facts that employers want to know.
You should list the most information under your current job and the one you held before that. As you progress backward in time, write more minor descriptions. If you have a long history, you don’t need to include every position you have held. Instead, you can mention the job title, company, and dates of employment for older positions. Go back no more than ten to fifteen years as your recent experience markets you for the next role.
One last thing to do
Keep your profile up to date. Mark your calendar so that you have a date to update LinkedIn every year. Then, when you land a new job, wait a couple months and list that.
This article was originally published in Forbes.