If you’re one of the many college-educated job seekers getting anxious about upcoming student loan payments, it’s time to dust off that incomplete LinkedIn profile you started and abandoned.
Most college graduates and students that I work with create a LinkedIn profile early on in their job search but do nothing with it. You may not realize that, when optimized with the keywords recruiters and HR professionals are using, your profile can bring job opportunities to you in your sleep and ultimately speed up your job search.
Take control of your job search, and follow these steps to make your LinkedIn profile more visible in search results.
Fill Out Your Profile Completely
What I mean by completely is this: don’t skip any sections that you have applicable information for. Add both your College and the Degree you’re working towards or earned. Don’t just provide your Employer and Job Title. Describe your typical tasks in the Description field at the very least.
Why is this important? LinkedIn is a search engine optimized platform. The more information you provide, the more your profile will appear in relevant search results.
Upload A Profile Photo
According to LinkedIn, your profile is 14 times more likely to be clicked on and viewed by search results if you have a profile photo. In fact, the profiles with profile photos appear first in search results.
LinkedIn’s search algorithm is designed to showcase the most relevant and most complete profiles in search results, so opting out of adding a profile photo will hurt your chances of appearing in search results. This isn’t the place for blatant selfies, so have a professional looking headshot on hand for this profile photo. At the very least, have a friend take the photo so it doesn’t look like a selfie.
Customize Your Headline
This is the easiest and yet the most skipped trick to making your profile more visible in LinkedIn search results. You get 120 characters to work with, so why are you settling for the default Headline (“Position Title + Company Name” or Student at “College Name”)? Instead, create a condensed Branding Statement that incorporates keywords that recruiters and HR professionals will be using in LinkedIn searches.
Need help getting started? This Branding Statement Cheat Sheet will help!
Add A Key Skills Section To Your Summary
You get up to 2,000 characters in your Summary section, so optimize it with keywords in a Key Skills section. To avoid keyword-stuffing your profile and being flagged by LinkedIn, limit this section to your top 10-12 job-related and technical skills.
While you should have keywords naturally integrated throughout your LinkedIn profile, a Key Skills section in your Summary is similar in purpose to your Skills section on your resume. It should be short so it’s easy to skim, and it optimizes your content with a few more keywords (and frequency matters!).
Use Universal Job Titles
Don’t lie about your responsibilities and experience, but make sure your job titles are universally accepted for your industry and field. Here’s a good example: If your employer gave you the title “Office Clerk” but your role and responsibilities are the same as an “Administrative Assistant”, you can and should use the Administrative Assistant job title on your LinkedIn profile since it’s more universally accepted than “Office Clerk.”
If a recruiter or hiring manager is looking for candidates with previous experience to fill an Administrative Assistant role, they are more likely to search for “Administrative Assistant” than “Office Clerk.” Set yourself up for success by optimizing your job titles as necessary.
Add Related Skills To Your Experience Section
Another great way you can integrate more keywords into your profile is to add a SHORT Related Skills section to each job you list under your Experience section. Again, you don’t want to be flagged by LinkedIn for keyword-stuffing your profile. Limit this list to 4-6 of the most relevant job-related skills.
Since the most common keywords that hiring professionals will be using in LinkedIn searches are job titles and skills, your profile should focus on your skills and the results they produce as much as possible. Similar to your resume, your job summaries should already describe your related skills in action but a short Related Skills section can give your profile a boost in LinkedIn search results.
Fill Up Your Skills Section
This common LinkedIn mistakes blows my mind. You can add up to 50 skills to your Skills section without keyword-stuffing your profile; and when you apply to jobs with your LinkedIn profile, the job poster will see how many skills in this section match the job posting. In other words, you need to have more than 10 Skills in this section no matter what!
If you need help filling this section, start by researching job postings that are similar to your job target. Add the keywords you identify in these job postings including job-related skills, transferable skills, and technical skills. Before applying to any jobs with your LinkedIn profile, make sure to add any new keywords as Skills.
Grow Your Network
Having more Connections (Connections are to LinkedIn as Friends are to Facebook) on LinkedIn can also make your LinkedIn profile more visible in search results. If you want to make your profile more visible in LinkedIn search results, you need to be reaching out and connecting with others in your industry or working for companies you’d love to work for.
Why? Well, here’s the catch with LinkedIn search results: You’re more likely to appear in search results if you are a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Connection of the person searching for you. Growing your network increases the likelihood that you’ll be a 1st or 2nd Connection with the LinkedIn user searching for candidates like you.
What About Google Search Results?
Your LinkedIn profile will be one of the top search results when a hiring manager searches for you on Google. The best way to make your profile more visible in Google search results is to add a Common Misspellings/AKAs section to your Summary section.
If you have a common name, like John Smith, this won’t be as helpful; but for most job seekers, adding nicknames and common misspellings of your name (like Stefani for Stephanie) can help!
Set your profile up for success by integrating the keywords, or skills, employers will be looking for in LinkedIn searches.