I’m often asked by my clients how they can be found by recruiters on LinkedIn. That’s a great question, and contrary to what my job seekers think, optimizing your profile is not enough. Sure, having a profile that contains the proper keywords is important, but being found by recruiters takes more commitment than that.
What we’re talking about is your ranking on LinkedIn — that is, how high up you appear in search results when recruiters look for people like you. The higher you rank, the more likely it is that recruiters will choose to contact you. The recruiters with whom I have spoken about this say they rarely look beyond the fourth page of results. At 10 profiles per page, that means recruiters will only look at the first 40 profiles. If you’re below No. 40, you’re probably not getting a call.
So, how do you improve your rank? There are various factors at play. Let’s look at a few:
1. Keywords Matter, But They’re Not Everything
You do need to include the right keywords throughout your profile, but according to LinkedIn, balance of keywords matters more than abundance. In other words: Don’t stuff your profile with repeated words, as this is considered spamming.
More keywords aren’t always better. Our advice would be to avoid overfilling your profile with keywords and only include the keywords that best reflect your expertise and experience. If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your profile, it’s likely that your profile will be filtered out by our spam detection algorithms, which will negatively impact your appearance in search results.
Where do keywords matter most? Every keyword is important throughout your profile, but the areas weighed heavier than others are the headline and titles of your positions in the experience section.
So, yes, keywords are important, but take LinkedIn’s advice and don’t overdo it.
2. Maintain an Extensive Network
You are deemed more relevant to a search — and thus ranked higher in the results — if you are connected to the searcher. Here’s how LinkedIn explains it:
The more connections you have, the more likely you will have a connection to the searcher. Closer connections, such as a 2nd-degree connection compared to a 3rd-degree connection, improve the likelihood your profile may appear in searches.
The more people you have in your LinkedIn network, the more connections you have. The more connections you have, the more likely it is that you will have some connection to a searcher who is looking for someone like you. Keep in mind we’re talking about connecting with the proper people — people who will actually be meaningful members of your network. You don’t have to accept every invite you receive just to build a network.
You can see how many searches you’ve recently appeared in by visiting your profile’s dashboard. When you click on the number, you’ll see where the searchers work, which occupations they hold, and the keywords they searched. This last bit of information can be valuable, as you’ll get a sense of whether you’re using the proper keywords to brand yourself.
It’s also important to note the number of people who visit your profile, as this will give you an idea of your LinkedIn presence. You can find this number on your homepage under your headshot, as well as in your profile’s dashboard.
3. Network With Your Connections
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. As such, LinkedIn wants you to network with likeminded people. A safe number of interactions on LinkedIn is twice a day, four times a week. I suggest to my LinkedIn workshop attendees that they engage with their connections daily. Jaws drop.
Giving endorsements is one way to network with your connections. Forget what you may feel about endorsements. LinkedIn developed endorsements to encourage interacting with your connections, so use the feature for its intended purpose. Like it or not, your skills and endorsements are factored into the algorithm LinkedIn uses to rank you. The best way to receive endorsements is by endorsing your connections.
LinkedIn wants to see you being active on the platform. Participate in discussions, create your own discussions, share articles, write articles, ask questions, and provide tips about your industry.
This aspect of your LinkedIn campaign is often overlooked. Many people believe that “set it and forget it” is the approach to take — that a great profile alone will draw people to them. Don’t make that mistake. More activity will draw people to you, thus improving your search results.
In the end, note that LinkedIn’s algorithm for search appearances isn’t an exact science. LinkedIn writes:
Unlike standard search engines, we generate relevance uniquely for each member. The order of a search result is determined in part by the profile, activity, and connections of the person who is searching.
If you want to be found on LinkedIn, you must create a complete profile containing the proper keywords, develop a strong network to engage with, and stay active on the platform. If you do this, you’ll appear higher when recruiters search for someone with your experience and talents.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.