How to look at your LinkedIn profile through headhunters’ eyes
With over 740 million members and some 55 million registered companies in 200 countries, LinkedIn is the world’s largest social media business networking site, clocking up some 1 billion interactions every month. It’s an essential tool for anyone looking to find top talent, with many recruiters uploading information directly from LinkedIn to their databases.
Here are our top tips, canvassed from among 300 global AltoPartners - specialists in cross-border executive search - on how to prepare a LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed for all the right reasons.
1. Keep it current. A surprising number of people forget to update their Linkedin profiles when they make a career move, which, apart from looking sloppy, can have unintended career consequences: If your former company’s new ad campaign gets roasted on social media and you are still listed as their head of marketing, it could damage your reputation too.
2. Get your story straight. When presenting your employment history pay particular attention to missing and overlapping dates.
3. Show off your insights. Briefly highlight what you learned or what you achieved in each role. If the company is not a global name, then provide some context: was it a start-up? M&A? Did you have to battle financial constraints? Were you trying to unseat traditional players? Etc
4. But keep it short. Concise, relevant and punchy should be your mantra. Give us just enough data to make us want to call you.
5. Be interesting. We don’t want to know about your field hockey club, but we do want to know which professional bodies or associations you are actively involved with and whether you are part of a foundation or organisation that contributes to the upliftment of your industry or profession. Add any pro bono/advisory roles/special interests as they relate to your professional growth and development.
6. Stay relevant. Update any skills you may have acquired. Again, please no hobbies or hobby horses such as environmental activism or animal rights, unless these are crucial aspects of your dream job.
7. Dial back on the weird. Keep your byline clear and accurate. If you have a title that is unique to your company, state the generic title under which most readers will understand the position (Chief Information Officer) and in brackets the specific name your company gives the role (Digital Overlord). Many recruiters search within particular parameters and keywords - make sure we can find you!
8. Show your best side. Profile photos are essential. Whether you use a professional portrait or an action shot in which you are speaking or presenting is up to you. Avoid selfies and digital filters, and chose a neutral background or one that reflects an aspect of your job. Unless you’re an actual fishing guide, save the angling trophies for Facebook. Ditto boats, beaches and ski slopes.
9. Be visually literate. Don’t neglect your profile banner. If you are unsure what image to use, consult someone with design flair for ideas on how to visually represent your personal brand.
10. Publish and be noticed. The ability to produce relevant, engaging content for your industry is a distinct advantage. If you lack the time, talent or inclination, consider working with a professional writer to get your ideas across or contributing to articles and linking your name to them. Even if you have a clear and accessible writing style, it is advisable to have a trusted editor. Poorly written content that is confusing or grammatically imperfect can harm your brand. Many companies perform direct searches through their talent acquisition function, and they will read whatever you publish.
11. Share the love. Like, share and comment on other people’s posts. These show up on your profile and are a good indicator of your interests and your style of engagement. It’s also an excellent way to connect with new people and broaden your network.
12. Don’t be shy. Ask for recommendations. Nothing is more powerful than having third parties acknowledge the quality of your work and the impact you have had on an organisation. Search consultants often look for endorsements of your skills, and referrals like these go a long way to building your reputation in an industry.
13. Think globally. More and more companies are hiring regardless of location. Hybrid working conditions mean that it is no longer necessary to relocate physically. If you are posting in a second or third language to broaden your geographic scope, get a native speaker to check it. If in doubt, get a professional opinion.
14. Check your inbox. If you are an active jobseeker, keep an eye on your LinkedIn messages, or provide alternate contact details so that headhunters and prospective employers can reach you.
15. Benchmark your profile. Check out 10 LinkedIn Profile Summaries That We Love (And How to Boost Your Own) and LinkedIn best practices
16. Be social media savvy. We are increasingly performing social media audits for our clients when recruiting for high-level, public-facing roles. We don’t just check your LinkedIn, we will also check your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts to make sure your personal posts don’t have the potential to harm the corporate brand. There have been many cases where high-level people have been fired because their personal social media activity is at odds with the corporate brand values they represent.
Top Ten Turn-offs (in order):
- No profile picture
- Inappropriate profile pictures
- An incomplete or outdated work history
- Not accepting or not responding to InMail requests
- Email addresses that bounce
- Jargon and buzz-words
- Long-winded opinions and wordy job descriptions
- Political views, arguments and derogatory comments on other people’s posts
- Personal information that is irrelevant to the role
Top three ways to get attention on LinkedIn:
- Publish (don’t just like and share)
- Comment (respectfully and insightfully) on other people’s posts
- If you’re actively using LinkedIn to connect with people, always add a note to your request. This personalises your connection request and increases the chances of the recipient engaging with you.
With special thanks to the following AltoPartners for sharing their personal experiences and insights: Verena Acerbi, Sonal Agrawal, Ricardo Bäcker, Judy Boreham, Kunal Ghosh, Jana Martinová, Julia Scheffer and Julia Zdrahal-Urbanek.