Over the past years, LinkedIn has changed from being “just” a platform for online resumes to a platform where we brand ourselves on a personal level. Today, this is where we make ourselves visible to our network, our partners, our customers and perhaps our future workplace(s).
To get a deeper insight into what a headhunter is looking for when they are seeking candidates on LinkedIn, we interviewed Henrik Brabrand, CEO of the executive search company TRANSEARCH Albright A/S.
LinkedIn is an important channel
LinkedIn is an important channel when it comes to recruiting and HR. LinkedIn is often used because it works both as a personal website and as an online CV. According to Henrik Brabrand, all potential candidates for a new job will be vetted on LinkedIn, as well as on other social media platforms. However, LinkedIn is the most important platform – and at Digital Works, we get the same answer when we ask in other organizations.
What the headhunter always looks for on your LinkedIn profile
Headhunters will look for many different things when they look at your LinkedIn profile. According to Henrik Brabrand, the following points are particularly essential to highlight:
The right keywords
Keywords are important – and keywords can be improved in many places on your LinkedIn profile – skills, description of experience, headline, etc. When a headhunter or an organization is looking for candidates, they often use the search function on LinkedIn – and the words you have used on your profile are an important factor in helping you to be found in these searches. Not only are the keywords essential to your being found by the headhunter, they also reflect your skill in representing yourself and showing your professional ambitions.
Tell a good story
A headhunter looks for your ability to create a good flow on your profile – and whether you manage to tell a good, coherent story. This competency is strongly linked to your ability to express yourself, which is demanded in many positions. In that context, it is important to show the consistency of your career. If your career is cohesive and without too many “digressions”, it will paint a picture of you as a person with good judgment because of the choices you made.
Create a pattern
Creating a clear pattern is also relevant in relation to what was stated above. The meaning of creating a pattern is to show cohesion in the choices that you have made, by the recommendations of others, and in your skills and experience. If, for example, four references highlight the same thing about you, it must indicate that there is some truth to it. Conversely, four very diverse references can create doubt about what is actually true.
Skills / endorsements
Also, do not underestimate the value of skills and endorsements, which, according to Henrik Brabrand, are used more than you might think. Skills and endorsements have a good function as keywords when being recruited for a position. Consistency between skills, endorsements and the full picture on your profile can also help to emphasize a pattern and the general flow of the profile.
Don’t be afraid to show your results
Many people are very action-oriented and may therefore lose focus on their results and what they have accomplished in their previous positions. However, the fact is that just as with your physical CV, your LinkedIn profile should focus on your results. And results are not necessarily X number of sales made or X amount of money saved – they might also be some of the processes that you have implemented, campaigns you have launched, or projects you have completed.
Remember to ensure the quality of everything you upload
LinkedIn is the medium of opportunities – you can upload everything from recommendations and skills to publications for projects and volunteer work. Here you have to show consistency – it is not necessarily a good thing to fill out all the fields. It might be even better to prioritize, ensure the quality of what you choose to highlight, and constantly create consistency between your experiences and choices. LinkedIn recommendations are a good example. They can be very positive, but if a recommendation points in a completely different direction than the image you are trying to portray, or if the recommendations are very different from each other when comparing them, the red light will blink. It is the same thing when it comes to skills, projects, volunteer work, etc. It can all be relevant, especially the present, but do constantly consider the relevance to ensure a sharp, accurate and coherent profile.
There are a number of warning signs that will get headhunters to distance themselves from your CV on LinkedIn. Spelling errors and confusing language are signs of general sloppiness – which is not one of the qualities that are appreciated by any future employer. An unprofessional tone on LinkedIn may be sign of poor judgment. Another warning sign is when there are big differences between your LinkedIn profile and your physical CV. There will obviously be some differences between the two, as the physical CV is targeted to a concrete position. However, all facts, such as working periods, employers and training must be in agreement. Frequent job changes or big gaps in your CV can also be a concern. However, if significant gaps in your CV or frequent job changes are a reality, a brief description of the motivation for your choices can make your choices rational and targeted.
The headhunter’s best tips for a good profile on LinkedIn
We have already said it once, and now we will say it twice: use the right keywords. It is not only nice to read, but also makes you more visible. In addition to keywords, Henrik Brabrand recommends a number of things you can do to attract positive attention on LinkedIn.
Start strong with the elevator pitch
The strongest profiles on LinkedIn, according to Henrik Brabrand, start with a strong pitch at the beginning. A good elevator pitch must not only summarize your core competencies, it must also sell you as a person and make people curious to know more about you, to ensure that they will read more of your profile.
Keep it short and to the point
It is no secret that headhunters have to go through a lot of material when recruiting for a position. A very text-heavy profile can seem overwhelming. Therefore, Henrik Brabrand recommends that you keep the text elements on your profile short – maybe with a list of bullet points to make it easy and manageable.
The profile photo
The profile photo is an important element – partly, because it is the first thing that is seen (both on your profile and in the news feed), and partly because it creates a good impression of who you are as a person. That being said, it also matters what type of photo you choose to use. LinkedIn is a professional medium and differs from, for example, Facebook and Instagram. Thus, professionalism must be reflected in the choice of the photo. If you don’t have a photo on your profile, it does not necessarily determinate whether you are invited to an interview or not, according to Henrik Brabrand. However, it requires that you keep track of the rest of the elements on your profile.
Do you want to work abroad?
If you are looking for an experience abroad, there may be other things that the headhunter is looking for. There can be big differences depending on the country. For example, is it more common for Americans to talk about themselves in third person and “blow themselves up”, whereas the Danish mindset is more influenced by the thought of not speaking too well about oneself. Therefore, the best tip is to take the time to get to know the specific country and its LinkedIn usage.
Accept that you will never complete your profile
Updating your LinkedIn profile is an on-going process that you will never completely finish. As mentioned earlier, it is important to continuously review the content, keep the components updated and be active to constantly “look good” on LinkedIn. Henrik Brabrand reviews his profile weekly to keep it up-to-date.
In short – what to be aware of
We have collected a summery of the most important points you can use in your further work to get a strong LinkedIn profile: Find the main keywords and implement them in the different text elements on your profile
- Make sure there is consistency in your profile
- Proofreading – do it yourself or get someone else to do it
- Explain your motivation for ‘non-logical’ choices that break the pattern
- Focus on results – what have you previously achieved?
- Remember to ensure the quality of everything you upload – and do ongoing reviews
- Make a sharp elevator pitch
- Keep the text short and concrete
- Have a professional profile photo taken
Good luck with your profile.
What do you do to optimize your LinkedIn profile?
Share your advice for a better LinkedIn profile below.