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A search-optimized LinkedIn profile can attract your next job out of the blue. One of my clients has landed his last two jobs through recruiters finding his profile. In this post I’ll share proven techniques–some well known, and some surprising–to get recruiters to contact you on LinkedIn.

Not all of the resulting recruiter messages will be about suitable opportunities–life insurance sales, anyone?–but all of them have value, as I’ll explain below.

First, let’s look at how to make your profile into a recruiter magnet.

Include plenty of effective keywords.

Okay, you probably had the general idea already: When recruiters search LinkedIn, either via the specialized LinkedIn Recruiter app or through the same search process anyone can access, they look for certain words related to the role they’re looking to fill. For example, a communications manager’s profile will probably include several mentions of “media,” “web,” “writing” and so on.

To identify the keywords you need to include throughout your profile, follow this method:

Find several job postings that are very typical of the job you want.
Highlight the skills and qualifications that seem most crucial. The key skills are often the ones mentioned most often, or that are closest to the top of the posting, or that appear in multiple postings.
Make a list of your highlighted words.
Add the job titles you’re interested in. Those may be your most important keywords of all. (“But I’ve never held that title,” you may say, “so how can I include it in my profile?” Keep reading, especially the “Bonus Tip” below!)
While you’re at it, add the most common verbs you found, as well.
Now work those words into your profile, especially in the following sections: Professional Headline (the line right under your photo), About, Experience and Skills.

(Use all of these techniques in writing your resume and cover letters, too, because both of those documents are likely to be used in employers databases or applicant tracking systems to identify applicants who are a good fit.)

***Bonus Tip***  One of the most effective places for keywords is the “Title” field of the jobs in your Experience section. Although it’s important to include your accurate title, that’s not all you can include. Read my post Can you change your title on your resume? and apply this powerful technique to your profile.

Always show a current “job.”

Why did I put “job” in quotes? Because even if you’re unemployed, there are ways to honestly and ethically include a keyword-rich, effective “current position” entry that goes right up “to present,” without claiming that you have a job.

This is very important, because often recruiters search for professionals who are currently in a position similar to the one they’re looking to fill. Read my post, How to Update Your LinkedIn Profile When You’re Unemployed.

Use the “Open to” button–but do it right.

Click on “Open to” in your profile and fill out the form, indicating your desired job titles and so on.

However, under “Visibility” in that form, do *not* check “All LinkedIn members.” Doing so causes LinkedIn to add an “OpenToWork” frame around your photo. That graphic advertises the fact that you’re either unemployed or unhappy in your job. Either situation is a turnoff to recruiters. In fact, a candidate who is happily employed is very attractive, and they won’t hesitate to try to steal you away from your company.

Have a complete profile.

Profiles LinkedIn considers “complete” get more views. To achieve “complete” status, LinkedIn recommends you do all of the following:

Add a profile photo
List all the jobs or positions you’ve held, along with descriptions of your roles
Have 5 or more skills on your profile
Write a summary about yourself
Fill out your industry and postal code
Add where you went to school
Have 50 or more connections

LinkedIn also recommends you update your profile frequently.

Notice that the first item on LinkedIn’s must-have list was “Add a profile photo.” LinkedIn states that “just having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others.” It also makes a crucial first impression, so choose the right photo. 

Be well connected.

While “50 or more” connections may be enough to qualify your profile as complete, having more will make your profile more findable. What’s a good number of connections? I have advice on that, too.

Get recommendations.

Not only do recommendations boost your search rankings, they’re compelling social proof of your skills, including those important but hard-to-prove soft skills. Know the best practices for obtaining and capitalizing on recommendations.

When you do hear from recruiters, respond politely and connect with them, even if the position is ridiculously off-base. If you know someone else who might be interested, put them in touch. One way or another, responding to these contacts increases your odds of hearing from them, and others, about future opportunities that may be right up your alley. Not only is it good manners, it’s good networking, which as you know is a major part of getting a great job sooner!