Did you know that 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to discover talent for the vacancies they’re looking to fill?
LinkedIn is currently one of the most powerful tools available to you in landing your dream job. Yet, many professionals, with highly impressive skills and backgrounds, don't know how to use it to their advantage. Simply publishing a LinkedIn profile isn't going to do much for your career or job search if you're not implementing the right strategies to get noticed.
We sat down with Carrus Coach Margaret Buj to take an in-depth look at how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile to get hired at Top Tech companies including FAANG firms.
Margaret is a Recruiter and Interview Coach with over 15 years of experience recruiting for global Technology and eCommerce companies across Europe and the US. She’s recruited for Top Tech companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Avanade, Expedia, Typeform, Box, King, and VMware and has helped countless candidates land roles at FAANG companies such as Amazon and Facebook.
Margaret has also been recognized as one of the Top Career Influencers to Follow in 2019, she's spoken at career events and conferences and has run workshops in London, Monaco, Athens & Saudi Arabia. This combination perfectly positions her to act as our guide to standing out in the recruitment process and attracting the attention of Top Tech Recruiters.
What is LinkedIn Optimization?
According to Margaret, “users with optimized profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities.”
Let’s get into what exactly we mean by an optimized profile. When you create a profile LinkedIn has a checklist that you need to fulfil in order for your profile to be considered complete. To have a profile that LinkedIn regards as complete, you need to include your industry, location and your current position must be listed, including a description of the position, not just a job title. You need to display at least two past positions, your education, at least four skills, a profile photo, and have a minimum of 50 connections. However, just because your profile is listed as complete, doesn't actually mean it's optimized.
Margaret says “the biggest mistakes I see when I look at LinkedIn profiles is that there's actually no headline or the person just defaults to their job title.”
Other common oversights include just listing employment dates without providing details on your role, overly focusing on duties in the overview of your position, not having a summary section at all, or including some generic information as a summary but not making it interesting and unique to your story.
Let’s take a look at the 13 things you can do as a Tech professional, to make your profile stand out to recruiters.
Your Headline (Also called the Tagline)
LinkedIn allows for only 220 characters (around 50 words) for your headline, so you need to be very selective about what you include – make those 50 words count.
In your headline you want to showcase your skills and experience in a way that makes it really clear to whoever is looking at your profile, what it is that you do, and what value you bring. If you’re looking for a new role, you definitely want to have at least one keyword that's relevant to the job you’d like to land.
Ideally you should also showcase something unique about yourself, like an impressive accomplishment, an award or even an interesting passion of yours. If you’re including a passion or personal interest, it needs to be more unique than reading or gym. Maybe you’re a mountaineer currently making your way through the highest peaks on each continent. An anecdote like that would certainly make you memorable.
Margaret offered the following examples of what a great headline would look like.
LinkedIn Headline Example 1:
Digital Ads Manager | 5 Years’ Experience Managing 7-figure Ad Budgets
Here you’re following the formula Role | Specific Achievement
LinkedIn Headline Example 2:
HR Director at Oracle | Software Technology | Certified HR Trainer
Headline formula used: Role | Industry/Area of Expertise | Unique Value
For someone looking to switch industries a great tip from Margaret is to replace your current focus area with the industry you’d like to move into.
For example: HR Director at Oracle | Looking to Switch into Software Technology | Certified HR Trainer
LinkedIn Headline Example 3:
Product Manager | 10+ Years of PM Experience in Tech | Disneyland Annual Pass Holder
Headline formula used: Role | Years of Experience | Fun Fact
This formula works well if you know the role you’re targeting requires a specific amount of experience. If this isn’t the case, using an achievement is preferable to leading with years of experience as that doesn’t convey the value you offer to your audience.
LinkedIn Headline Example 4:
Social Media Manager | Helping software start-ups manage and grow their social media to drive more sales.
Here you’re focusing on the results that you help companies achieve. The more specific you can be here the more impact this type of headline has. Look at how much more specific and impressive this headline is versus purely saying ‘Social Media Manager’.
Headline formula used: Role | Helping (type of company / sector) do (result)
LinkedIn Headline Example 5:
This one is for people starting out in their career. Just because you don’t already have years of experience under your belt doesn’t mean you can’t offer a headline that stands out and attracts attention from the right people. Use what you do have and make sure to include the space that you’re targeting. Play to your strengths, if years of experience isn’t currently one of your strengths, focus on the qualities, skills, achievements and areas of specialization that are. This could look like:
Java Developer | Master’s Degree from X | Looking for an entry role in X
What makes a good summary?
First off, you’ll want to keep your summary brief and thought provoking. Work on keeping to a few short paragraphs of 3 to 5 sentences each. There certainly are examples of longer LinkedIn summaries that make for an interesting read, but people have short attention spans, especially these days, so you’re best off sticking to a shorter summary that leaves your reader curious to know more about you.
You absolutely want to include at least one accomplishment. You might be tempted to focus on your main responsibilities here, or list some of your duties, but that’s where you move away from the distinctive factors that make you valuable in a unique way. Focus rather on the impact you’ve had, the value you’ve created, your achievements and innovations. Here you want to be using those action verbs such as managed, led, initiated, delivered. This, by the way, goes both for your LinkedIn summary, and your resume.
Another great element to include in your summary is real-life examples to demonstrate and evidence your experience. This could include adding presentations, web sites, blogs, articles you’ve published, and video or audio files that showcase something you’re proud of.
Margaret offered up these top tips for writing a killer summary section:
- Focus on demonstrating what you’ll do for an employer (or customer). What value would you add? What could they expect for you to bring.
- Emphasize hard skills first and foremost. Soft skills are incredibly important, however everyone can say I’m highly motivated and have excellent organisational and communication skills. Catch phrases or buzz words such as detail oriented are so overused that they have no impact. You can include some soft skills, but focus more on the hard skills relevant to your position, or the position you’d like to move into and showcase your soft skills at your interview. Think about how you can include some numbers and data – have you done something that saved time, saved money, increased profit, streamlined a procedure?
- Include keywords for the type of job you want.
- Show some passion for your work and some personality. Give the reader a bit of insight into who you are beyond numbers, stats and skills.
- Utilize white space and short paragraphs to make your LinkedIn summary easier to read.
Winning LinkedIn Summary Examples
Katrina’s summary stands out because she hooks her reader with a short, provocative intro sentence that you likely wouldn’t see on anyone else’s profile. Her summary makes for an interesting read and she is certain to get noticed in the crowd. She gives humanizing context to her career switch and has made sure to cleverly use a keyword-rich skills list to show off her progress, capabilities and intrinsic motivation to learn. Sure, this style of writing won’t suit everyone, but you can take inspiration from it to make your story your own and create a summary that people will enjoy reading.
Karen stands out because she leads with her greatest accomplishments and does so in a personalized, interesting way. She could have just as easily listed bullet points of her key achievements but by working this list into a tailored story unique to her, we now have an engaging read that holds your attention. She uses an anecdote to explain how her career started and shares a vulnerable tidbit about her husband’s cancer diagnosis that enhances her credibility in pharmaceutical advertising.
Daniel stands out because he puts his career path in context by connecting the dots from his youth, which shows the reader that this has always been a huge passion for him. It lends personal credibility to why he chose to go this route and also why you could expect long-term commitment and staying power from him. It's glaringly obvious to anyone that he really loves what he does and it's far more than just a job to him. He makes sure to balance industry keywords and hard skills with a dose of humility and provides an easy-to-read summary of his specialities and fields of formal education.
Margaret says the biggest mistakes she sees here are:
“Only listing job title and dates with zero information about what the person has done. Mentioning a few responsibilities without providing any context or achievements, just a list of responsibilities that could be done by anyone. This leaves the person viewing your profile with no idea if you are operating at the Assistant level or Director level.”
What makes a good experience section?
- Link your job to the company’s logo. Assuming the company you work for is on LinkedIn (as most are these days) link the company name field to their page.
- Start with a brief overview.
- Use action words. Steer away from ‘responsible for’ and ‘duties included’. Mention what you’ve delivered, what you’ve managed, initiated etc.
- Use keywords. What are the keywords on the job descriptions that interest you? It should go without saying that you can’t just fill your profile with keywords of skills you don’t actually have or things you haven’t done, but if you have the experience, make sure it’s clear on your profile and expressed through the keywords that companies you’re targeting like to use.
- Keep it concise and clear.
- Use the correct tenses. Remember to change the tense of previous roles when you add a new position. It’s a small detail, but these are the ways you show that you are indeed detail oriented without throwing out an overused buzz word.
- Include achievements.
- Check for correct spelling and grammar. Again this is the way you show that you’re detail oriented and have good written communication skills without using those phrases. It carries much more weight to evidence these soft skills through what you do than merely saying the words.
I’ve mentioned a number of times already how important it is to include achievements, and this goes for everything – LinkedIn profile, Resume/CV – it can’t be stressed enough how vital this is in setting you apart from the next person in line.
A lot of people struggle with how to list achievements and even where to begin thinking of what they could include. I’ve heard so many people claim they don’t really have any achievements to list. This is simply not true. Everyone has things they’ve accomplished that demonstrate sought after traits such as problem solving, finding a way to improve a process, or having an idea that was implemented. If you’ve just started your career and don’t have a significant workplace achievement yet, think about internships, volunteer work, sports or something you did in school. Anything you’ve done that you’re proud of and excited about will work well here.
How to list achievements:
Over what timeframe did you work on the task? E.g. The project lasted 6 months. How many times a week did you work on this task? E.g. Talked to 50 customers on a daily basis.
How many people did you manage? How big was the budget? How many clients or customers did you work with? E.g. “Managed marketing campaigns of 5+ SaaS clients in the fin-tech and hr-tech industries.”
If you have numbers and percentages here it makes results easier to list, but any statement that quantifies the scope of your work is what you’re looking for here.
E.g. “Delivered a 1.8x ROI on total ad spend of $2000.”
“Targeted 20+ potential clients on a daily basis, with a closing rate of 20%-25%.”
“Worked with a team of 3 Accountants, creating financial reports for all company activities composed of 8 departments.”
“Utilized Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to implement new scripts that increased performance by 25%”
“Led and managed a team of 6 in developing new financial software.”
Your profile picture is how people are introduced to you on LinkedIn and, like it or not, first impressions make an impact on how you’re received. There are some well written, and detailed posts that talk you through how to select the best profile picture for LinkedIn – but let’s go over some basic tips to start with.
You want to choose a photo with good lighting, where you look friendly and professional. Make sure the picture is recent and looks like you – if someone who had only engaged with you via your LinkedIn profile met you (in person or on video call), would they be shocked that it’s the same person? You want to use a head and shoulders shot where your face takes up about 60% of the photo.
It should go without saying that the picture should be work appropriate and present the kind of image you want people to have of you in your professional life. You’d think this doesn’t need to be said and surely no-one would use a photo of themselves on the beach or at a bar as their LinkedIn profile picture. You’d think so, but you’d be wrong – I’ve seen some crazy LinkedIn profile pictures.
Also worth mentioning is that even if you don’t feel you have the best quality picture, it’s better to have a (professional) picture than nothing at all. Having no picture almost lends the feel that your profile is fake and certainly does nothing to make you stand out in the crowd. The statistics show that profiles with no picture have a very low rate of people connecting with them. Remember to set your photo to public so that everyone can see it not only your connections.
Increase Your Visibility on LinkedIn
Margaret shared these tips on how you can achieve this:
- Keep on sharing content and adding connections. Always keep expanding your network. Whenever you meet someone at an event or work with new colleagues or project members, add them to your network.
- Make sure you keep your profile active. The more active you are on the platform the more you’ll get out of it. Contribute to conversations, share content that you find interesting – this will increase your views, responses and activity.
- Add articles that may be of interest to your connections.
- Participate in group discussions.
- Reach out to new connections and invite them to join your network.
- If you find something interesting – share it.
3 activities to increase your LinkedIn Visibility
- Status updates (ACTION). Margaret suggests a bare minimum of once a week and sharing content such as current and upcoming trends in your industry, insights from the projects you’re working on, events and seminars that you’re attending, training courses you’re taking, and articles you find interesting.
- Group Participation (INTERACTION). Actively participating in different discussions taking place on LinkedIn. Join some groups that are relevant to your niche and areas of interest.
- Use Advanced Search (CONNECTION). Using advanced search to connect with influential people and decision makers in the companies you’re targeting or would love to have contacts at.
In summary the 13 things you can do as a Tech professional to make your profile stand out to recruiters are:
- Work Experience
- Connections – how many connections you have is important, as is who you’re choosing to connect with. Remember to reach out to decision makers in companies you’d love to work for.
- Keywords – make sure you’re including keywords of the skills and competencies you have that align with the type of job you want.
- Courses, Languages & Volunteering – Do you mention the languages you speak or the specific technologies that you know? Do you regularly update your profile with new courses you've completed or certifications you've achieved?
- SEO – do you have the right keywords for SEO?
- Show, don’t tell – demonstrate results and evidence the soft skills you want to show off through your actions and not overused buzz words.
- Skills and Skills Assessments – one of the quickest ways to improve your profile is to make use of the skills section. Select the skills relevant to you and the roles you’d like to pursue from the list. Doing so also allows the opportunity for your connections to endorse you for those skills. Remember to keep the list updated and central to what you do and the value you bring. The LinkedIn Skills Assessment feature allows you to prove your knowledge of the skills you've included on your profile by completing assessments specific to those skills. If you pass the assessment, recruiters will see the badge on your profile, if you choose to display it. This badge lends credibility to the skills you’ve listed.
- Pulse and Groups – are you part of relevant groups and engaging in conversation. Are you a thought leader in your industry? Do you share valuable content?
- Endorsements and Recommendations
- Being active and responsive – keep a regular eye on your InMail, be active on the platform (bearing in mind quality over quantity). Participate in discussions where you can.
Do you have an interview coming up? Get a free career coaching session with Margaret to improve your LinkedIn profile here.