Just like it makes sense to regularly update your resume, you want to regularly update your other career branding tools, including your LinkedIn profile. If you’re in job search mode, the target audience for your LinkedIn profile is the recruiter. You want recruiters to find your profile when they do research, and you want your profile to get their attention when their research returns dozens or more profiles. Here are ten ways to make your LinkedIn profile attractive to recruiters:
Make your Headline descriptive
If you don’t proactively edit your Headline it will default to your current title and company. That brands your company, not you. If your title is generic (e.g., Manager, Director), then it doesn’t tell the reader anything about what you do. Include your industry and/or functional expertise in your Headline to provide more description in a quick read.
Include a Summary
Don’t just skip over the Summary section and jump to Experience. The position of the Summary right at the beginning helps frame your background for the quick reader. It’s also searchable so including popular keywords for your area of expertise will better enable recruiters to find you based on your skills and knowledge.
Maximize your Summary
Including a Summary with highlights of your background and searchable keywords is a good start, but you can maximize your Summary by making it a standalone description. If a recruiter saw nothing else but your LinkedIn Summary, would they want to contact you just based on that? Play around with your storytelling voice in your Summary – a more casual tone that includes how you came to your career expertise can be very effective. Include the arc of your career, not just your current role, especially if you have interesting positions and accomplishments along the way. Include key skills to round out your background.
Match your career chronology to your resume
If you list a job on your resume, list it on your LinkedIn profile. You don’t necessarily need as much description on your LinkedIn profile, especially for earlier jobs, but you want to have a complete career chronology on your LinkedIn profile, and you want it to match your resume for consistency. Including more companies, not less, on your LinkedIn profile improves your chances of coming up in searches by both recruiters and people trying to network with you.
Describe your work
You don’t necessarily need as much description on your LinkedIn profile as your resume. However, you want enough description in your LinkedIn profile, especially on your current role, so that the reader knows what you do and what you’ve accomplished.
Take advantage of additional sections
Publications, activities, and skills are all specific sections on LinkedIn, and you should use these as prompts for additional information to include about your background. LinkedIn is searchable, and recruiters absolutely search – we’re not going to peruse millions of resumes indiscriminately, rather we will filter by specific keywords!
Personalize your LinkedIn URL
You can customize the LinkedIn URL attached to your profile, and make it your name rather than a randomized set of letters and numbers. This is a small but significant touch that conveys a couple of advantages: 1) your profile looks cleaner when it’s shared (as a recruiter, I would often share profiles with my clients); and 2) when you include your customized URL in your email signature it’s obvious what you’re sharing and further reinforces your brand.
Include your contact information
If you’re in job search mode, you want people to easily reach you. If you don’t want to include your main email address for privacy reasons, you can set up a separate account earmarked for public sharing. Just make sure that it’s an account which either forwards to your main email or is something you will check regularly.
Update your settings
Speaking of checking regularly, make sure your LinkedIn settings are updated, including the contact information you attach to your profile. I recently connected to someone that I thought would be a fit to an opening at one of my clients, and once connected, I emailed the job description to the address on that LinkedIn profile. We also messaged back and forth on LinkedIn, during which the person realized that the email attached to their profile was out of date so he never got the job description I sent. You might not be hearing from people trying to contact you at outdated addresses. Or your notifications may be set such that you’re not receiving invites or news from your contacts (both of which are critical to staying in touch when you’re in job search mode).
The advantage of keeping your settings updated so you regularly hear from others is that the best LinkedIn profiles are active, not static. You want to have activity in your profile, ideally posting items relevant to your area of expertise. As a recruiter, if I landed on a profile with few connections and no activity, then I assumed that the profile was dormant, that I couldn’t reach the person through that profile, and then I would look elsewhere. You don’t want recruiters to land on your profile and go away!
None of these ten action items take much time but they do require awareness and effort. However, once you get started and check off the one-time items on your list (e.g., customizing your URL), your profile will be easier to maintain. You will also start getting better use out of your profile (e.g., people contact you) and you’ll be more inspired to keep going.
This post originally appears in my Forbes column.