Social media has grown to now play a big part in looking for a job and finding the best opportunities for career advancement. Without a doubt, the most important site for this purpose is LinkedIn. As of 2020, LinkedIn has over 14+ million open jobs at any given moment and boasts a professional community of some 722+ million users.
So it is no wonder that anyone serious about finding a job or changing their career needs to have an up-to-date, strategically optimized, LinkedIn profile.
Because here’s the deal with LinkedIn: it’s a place to discover and get scouted. Apart from pitching for open jobs, you can attract recruiters and decision-makers towards you by becoming more visible on the platform.
This post will show you how to up your LinkedIn job search skills in 2021. You’ll learn how to build your LinkedIn profile, increase your visibility online, and find ‘hidden’ job opportunities.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Before we dive into advanced optimization tips, let’s make sure that you have the basics covered.
At the very least, your LinkedIn profile should include:
- A professional headshot
- A brief LinkedIn summary and headline
- Your career timeline chronologically (like a resume does)
- Education and training details.
With that base covered, you can already apply for LinkedIn jobs. But to get the maximum out of LinkedIn, you should optimize your profile further, so that a) you could receive more relevant job invitations and suggestions b) rank higher among recently applied applicants c) appear on top of search results for certain skills.
Below are the tips for that:
1. Concentrate On LinkedIn Headline First
Perhaps the most important part of your LinkedIn profile is the headline. This is an ‘elevator pitch’ that grabs the people’s attention. Your name and headline are what show up in searches and need to be informative and eye-catching, not the standard “Current title + Current Job” that 80% of people use.
Here’s how you can jazz up your LinkedIn headline:
- Showcase your main value proposition. For example: “Experienced PR specialist for Software Vendors — Secured coverage in Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch. 1500+ journalist and investor contacts in the books”.
- Tout your accolades and certifications. “#3 in top 50 most creating architects of the 21st century. Specialty: minimalism, sustainable residential buildings”.
- Describe your responsibilities and specialty. For instance: “A compassionate and energetic Registered Nurse with a solid career track of working at nursing homes”.
NB: LinkedIn headline length is limited to 220 characters (as of 2020).
2. Complete All Profile Sections
If there’s a section on your LinkedIn profile that you can complete, make sure you do! All relevant experience, school history, qualifications, skills, recent projects should be on your profile.
Click a “Add a profile section” button atop of your profile and review all the drop-down sections. Think if there’s anything meaningful that you could add.
Unlike resumes, where a one-page length is a standard, a good LinkedIn profile can run munch longer!
Pro tip: Looking for relocation opportunities? You can have your LinkedIn profile in more than one language. Click the Supported Languages tab to add a translated version of your profile. The platform will then automatically match the viewers’ language to your available language profile, plus rank it for searchers made in other languages.
3. Try #OpenToWork profile photo frame
Last year, LinkedIn launched two new types of profile photo frames:
- OpenToWork — for job seekers
- Hiring — for employers
You can use the frame to showcase your job search status either to your entire network or only LinkedIn users who have ‘Recruiter’ profiles.
According to LinkedIn, the OpenToWork profile frame increases your chances of receiving a relevant message from a recruiter by 40%.
You can also filter out your contacts (or prospective ones) by ‘Hiring’ photo frame and reach out to them directly.
4. Optimize Your LinkedIn Summary
Your LinkedIn profile summary is arguably the most important part of your profile since it sits right atop of it.
In essence, it’s the preview section, telling a potential employer if you can be of interest to them or not. And you need to communicate that information preferably within the first 150 characters.
So how do you stop a busy recruiter in their candidate research track?
- Open your LinkedIn summary with a succinct summary of your main skills and accomplishments.
- Lead up with a quick overview of your career, education, and relevant training.
- Close with a call-to-action.
Read all about writing an attention-grabbing LinkedIn summary.
5. Understand LinkedIn Keywords
Keywords are the signposts that you place in your profile that tell people who you are. For example, if you work in web design, some of the common ‘describers” of your profession would be:
- Bootstrap 4, Sass, Github
- Front-end development
- UX/UI design
- Website design
- Design concept development
These are the keywords a potential employer will pop into the search bar to find a relevant candidate. To help them land on your profile, you should place these strategically in various places in your profile including experience, your current role, and projects.
You can get extra keyword suggestions from LinkedIn’s skills tool. Speaking of which…
6. Optimize Your Skills Section
The LinkedIn skills section is a great place to showcase your core competencies. Also, the skills you add there (and proof of having by completing Skills Assessments or earning upvotes from your network) will help you rank higher in search results.
You can learn more about LinkedIn keyword research and Skills section optimization from “Secret Guide to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile”, available as part of the Job Search Bundle.
7. Follow Dream Companies
We all have those companies that we would love to work for at some point. And LinkedIn is the place to follow them. Why? Because most employers share their latest vacancies on LinkedIn. Plus, their recruiters are often active on the platform.
By following your ideal employers on LinkedIn, you can:
- Be among the first to learn about new job opportunities
- Get approached by similar companies who are looking for the skills you have and see your interest as a positive thing.
8. Check the Career Explorer Tool
- Learn how different skills overlap across industries and positions
- Discover emerging roles and requirements for them
- Understand which skills are in high demand
You can also instantly view all open jobs in the category you are researching or find individual connections who are hiring.
9. Keep Building Your Network
Facebook has friends, LinkedIn has connections. The key is to remember they are very different. You might send a friend request to a random person on Facebook. You can do the same on LinkedIn, but etiquette says to do it a little differently.
For example, a personalized note with the connection request is important. Even if it says something along the lines of ‘I was admiring your profile and see we both have [some shared interest] in common.” or something similar. Start building a relationship from the very first contact.
Also, remember that LinkedIn uses a system to grade your contacts.
- First degree contacts are people you have connected with.
- Second-degree contacts are their contacts – so one step removed from you but with someone in common.
- Third-degree contacts are someone you don’t share a contact with.
You can approach any level of contacts, but the second-degree ones can be the best – that shared contact will show and make them more receptive. And a profile with 100 connections could mean thousands of second-degree connections.
10. Join LinkedIn Groups
Groups on LinkedIn can be an interesting place to make new connections. They can be industry-specific, job type-specific, or even interest-specific. Members share discussions, articles, and chat about the common theme.
There are more than two million groups, so you will always find some that suit what you are looking for. Then get in and engage with people – remember the social side of social media.
The key to making the most of out of LinkedIn groups is to:
- Pick the active ones, where genuine industry discussions happen
- Follow the group rules and avoid blatant self-promotion
- Participate in group discussions and provide help to your peers
- Send a connection request to group members you’ve conversed with to further expand your network.
11. Publish Content On The Site
If you can, it never hurts to publish some content straight onto LinkedIn. You have several options for that:
- LinkedIn Articles aka blog posts: A good avenue for re-publishing content you’ve written on your corporate blog or sharing other thought-leadership pieces.
- Posts: Shorter text, image, video, or link updates that you can share with your network.
The aim of occasionally publishing on LinkedIn is to show interesting content to your audience and associate yourself with this expertise.
Final tip: Keep Your Profile Up To Date
Keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date is very important. Even if it is just by adding an article from your industry that is interesting, you want to keep your profile active and show that you are involved in the network.
Don’t be afraid to update your profile sections if you start looking at a different job to get those important keywords in – you can change your profile settings so that your network isn’t notified every time you change something on your profile!
This article has been originally published on March 19, 2018 and has been extensively revised and updated on December 29, 2020.