Even if you are happily employed or running your own successful business, being found inside LinkedIn is essential, making you visible to LinkedIn’s 575 million members (as of October, 2018). People you are meeting with or possible clients/customers search to find you (or people like you). So, of course, do recruiters and potential employers. The best way to be found is to improve your LinkedIn rank by using the best keywords its search algorithm.
Unfortunately, the algorithm that determines rank in search results is not shared by LinkedIn.
Each LinkedIn member sees search results customized specifically for them, based on their LinkedIn network (connections) as well as what LinkedIn calls “relevancy to the searcher.” When we analyzed LinkedIn rank, we concluded that job seekers can successfully optimize their Profile by focusing in these 10 specific areas:
1. Find and Use the Best Keywords for You
Use these keywords in many different areas within your Profile such as your Professional Headline, Work Experience (job titles and job descriptions), Skills, and Profile Summary.
- Add relevant degrees and other certifications you have earned to your last name. Your LinkedIn Profile will appear higher in Google search results when those terms (as appropriate for you) are added to your name on LinkedIn, and many recruiters search LinkedIn Profiles using Google.
- Most people stop at dates and job titles, particularly of jobs in their past. This wastes a golden opportunity to promote their experience and to add important keywords, naturally, to their Profiles. Describe all of the jobs you list on LinkedIn, highlighting the experience and accomplishments that align with your current career goals and personal brand.
- Describe those former employers, too, as another great source of keywords! If the employer was small, explain what the organization did. For large employers, describe the division or part of the organization you worked in.
If you have target employers, review their descriptions for the job you want, particularly the job titles they use as well as the skills, certifications, and other terms used consistently for the roles you want.
Do not simply repeat the same keywords over and over. That looks desperate, dumb, and doesn’t work. For the best LinkedIn rank, include your keywords appropriately in the content of your Profile (another reason to have a robust Profile).
2. Carefully Choose Appropriate Skills and Get Endorsements
Inside LinkedIn Recruiter (the service recruiters pay LinkedIn to use), Skills are a major search option, often the first criteria a recruiter chooses. Often overlooked by LinkedIn members as trivial, the Skills and Endorsements section is actually a very important part of your Profile. LinkedIn recommends members have at least 5 skills out of a maximum of 50.
Choose the best LinkedIn Skills for you and your career, and collect endorsements to prove you have them. Only your first level connections can endorse you.
3. Have a Robust, Complete, and Focused Profile
A complete Profile, also known as “All Star” in LinkedIn terminology, is the minimal effort needed to be found in LinkedIn search results. Complete every Profile section as completely as you can. Don’t skimp on descriptions of ALL of your jobs and your employers (for the last 15 to 20 years), your quantified accomplishments in those jobs, projects, and education and training.
If you want your Profile to be found high up in LinkedIn rank where a recruiter is more likely to click on your name, a robust Profile is necessary. Focus your Profile on the job you want next, as specifically as possible so that it contains the right keywords for you. Without appropriate keywords, it won’t be found.
4. Be Well Connected
Unless a recruiter is paying to use LinkedIn Recruiter or doing a search for a person’s name, LinkedIn search results include only the people who are connected to the searcher as first, second, and third degree connections inside LinkedIn. Consequently, the more connections you have, the greater the likelihood that you will appear in someone’s search results, even if they are a third degree connection. Search results are not sorted by the degree of connection, so a third degree connection can be the top entry in search results.
Clearly, if you have a limited number of connections, your visibility in LinkedIn is extremely limited.
5. Include Your Current Location
Location is one of the most important and often used search criteria for recruiters looking for qualified candidates, inside and outside of LinkedIn. Employers usually want someone who is local so the person can be interviewed easily, start quickly, and avoid the expense of a relocation.
Not surprisingly, Location is also a main search criteria in LinkedIn Recruiter. The Location field in your LinkedIn Profile is one of the key elements used to determine whether or not you should be included high up in someone’s People search results.
You can use a country as your official location, but that’s a very generic location which means your Profile will probably be invisible (NO keywords!). A much better idea is to input your (current or target) Zip or Postal Code which LinkedIn will usually translate to a specific city or to a general region (like “Greater Boston Area”). You’ll be able to protect your privacy while providing them with a very valuable element in their LinkedIn rank algorithm.
6. Include a Good Photo
LinkedIn calls your photo “your virtual handshake,” and they are probably right. According to LinkedIn, members with photos receive 21 times more Profile views and up to 36 times more messages. Without a headshot photo, you are effectively invisible in LinkedIn regardless of how fabulous the rest of your Profile may be. Your LinkedIn rank may appear in search results, but people are very much less likely to click on your name or contact you.
People typically assume that a Profile lacking headshot is for someone who is clueless, hiding something, or fake. None of those reasons will encourage people to click on your name in search results, and your activity in LinkedIn will be very limited.
People have told me that they skip the photo so they won’t be discriminated against for a job. Unfortunately, omitting the photo does not reduce discrimination. It only impacts the timing of the discrimination — if someone doesn’t want to hire you because of your age, race, or gender, they won’t hire you after a job interview, either.
7. Be Consistently Active on LinkedIn
The less active and visible you are on LinkedIn, the lower your name will probably appear in LinkedIn search results. Daily participation seems to be the best approach, and that participation can be for ten or fifteen minutes a day, possibly less.
Make relevant updates. Share good information from solid sources. “Like” and comment professionally on content shared by others.
The goal is to show LinkedIn (and recruiters) that you do visit regularly, so if you are found in search results and someone reaches out to you, you will respond within a reasonable amount of time.
8. Demonstrate that You Are a Professional
Pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Bad spelling or grammar is one of the key reasons a person is ignored by recruiters and others. Misspelling an important keyword like “manager” (often replaced by “manger”) eliminates you from search results for an important keyword.
In addition, if you are rude or nasty to other members, resulting in being blocked or having your connections choose to disconnect, LinkedIn knows and is unlikely to place you very high in search results unless you have absolutely no competition.
Don’t confuse LinkedIn with Facebook. LinkedIn is for professional visibility, not for sharing your views on politics, religion, or sports. Unless, of course, your profession is in politics, religion, or sports.
So skip the party photos and other sharing unrelated to your professional goals.
9. Share Your LinkedIn URL
In the SEO world, this creates the “backlinks” so important to your online presence. But to your Profile in this instance, rather than to your website or blog. If you have a website or blog, add your LinkedIn URL to your bio or contact information. Also include them in your LinkedIn Profile, if they are related to your profession.
Finally, include your LinkedIn URL in your resume and job applications. Add it to your career portfolio (with your resume, etc.). And don’t forget to put it in your email “signature” at the bottom of all of your email messages.
10. Keep Your Profile Up-to-Date
Keep your Profile current with what is happening in your career. According to LinkedIn, members with “up-to-date” positions show up 18x more often in searches. Review your Profile on a monthly basis, or more often. Also, add new content, particularly new accomplishments and skills, training, and good news about your employer.
Even if you are in transition between jobs, update your Profile.
Think of your LinkedIn rank as personal marketing success. Consider: What would an employer like to know about you? Why would an employer hire you? Why would someone want to work with you? Include that information in your Profile.
Be accurate, and avoid putting your current employment at risk. But, don’t distort reality by claiming keywords that are not appropriate for you. For example, don’t use a job title that is your next, and not your current, job.
By following these LinkedIn rank optimization tips, you increase your LinkedIn rank. That, of course, increases and likelihood that you will show up in the search results. This is critical when recruiters search for candidates that match your set of qualifications, education, and experiences.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Job-Hunt.org!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff graduate. She has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.