Optimizing LinkedIn for Your Job Search

By Erin Kennedy

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One of the most important ways to use LinkedIn is when you're on the hunt for a new job. Simply having a profile isn't good enough. Your profile can be the difference between landing an interview for a job or getting passed over. As much as your profile can help you, it can hurt you just as quickly if you don't display the right information. Whether you just created a new executive LinkedIn profile or you've had one for years, you need to make sure it's updated and optimized for your job search. Here are some ways to use LinkedIn most effectively in your job search.


Optimize Every Section for SEO

Recruiters and hiring managers have certain keywords and phrases they search for online. Knowing which words those are, takes a little effort and research on your part, but you'll have to do that anyway if you have a fully targeted resume. Review the job descriptions you are looking at and make sure the words in the job description match up with what is in your profile. Since you don't know which section a recruiter will place the most emphasis on, the more relevant keywords you have, the easier it will be for a recruiter to find you.


Balance Soft Skills & Hard Skills

Highlighting your personal brand should be done on your LinkedIn profile. It's not always easy to showcase your soft skills in your resume, so make sure your personal brand comes through here. LinkedIn can be used to build on the resume itself. You can still mention your qualifications and hard skills, while also showing who you are as a person and a professional. Having a balanced LinkedIn profile like this will help differentiate yourself, and you'll have a better chance of piquing the interest of recruiters or hiring managers.


Increase Those Quality Connections

The question is raised frequently about the quality of connections versus quantity. There is value to more connections because you will rank higher in the search results the more connections you have, and your message will be displayed to a larger number of people, as well. Also, the more connections you have, the more credible you'll seem. However, randomly asking people to connect with you won't do any good. Quality connections can come from previous co-workers, classmates, people you've met at networking events, or even people from common LinkedIn groups you're involved with.


Be Active

Most recruiters will look at how active you are on LinkedIn and what your activity entails. Commenting in groups and sharing content are good examples of engaging activities. Not only do these activities demonstrate your interest in certain topics, but they also can show your expertise and leadership, depending on your interactions with the content. You don't want to be overly active all the time, but commenting and engaging with a few pieces of content daily is just right.


Take a Photo

No executive LinkedIn profile is complete without a professional profile photo. If you choose not to include one, a potential employer has no choice but to believe you are trying to hide something. And it's important to note that LinkedIn is not the platform to put a photo of your family or pets. Keep it simple and professional with a formal headshot for the best results.


Adjust Your Privacy

If you want to conduct a confidential job search through LinkedIn, it involves turning off notifications, limiting who can see your connections, viewing other profiles without those people knowing, and more. In the privacy settings, there are also ways to let recruiters know you are interested, so read through the information listed online. Many executives search for jobs while still employed, and you can easily keep your search confidential through LinkedIn.


Connect With Professionals

Connect with other professionals in your industry to learn more about them and any possible opportunities available. LinkedIn groups are also valuable since they are full of like-minded people, who allow you to demonstrate your personal brand to others and expand your network. You may also find someone in your network who works at a company you are interested in or who knows someone who does. That is the point of LinkedIn . . . to network. Don't be afraid to reach out to people. Most are very receptive and generous with their time and information.


Many employers require applicants to include a link to their LinkedIn profile when they apply for a job, so it’s critical for you to have yours updated and optimized. And as HR managers and recruiters use it to find
potential candidates, the time you spend working on it is well worth it.


About the Author

Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, CERW, CEMC, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, named one of Forbes "Top 100 Career Websites". Considered an influencer, she is consistently listed as a "Top Career Expert to Follow" on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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