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How a Recruiter Searches For Candidates on LinkedIn

I have spent the last decade using LinkedIn to recruit for candidates in the UK, across Europe, and North America. I have learnt from and seen how other recruiters leverage LinkedIn to find the right candidates. So, today I am going to share with you a recruiter’s perspective of LinkedIn.

In this article, we’re going to look closely at how recruiters find candidates on LinkedIn. It’s not just about having a profile or listing your job experiences. The way you present yourself, the things you share, and how you describe your skills all make a big difference.

I will show you what recruiters look for on LinkedIn and how they search for the right people. You’ll learn how to use keywords to your advantage, what common mistakes to avoid, and how to make your profile stand out.

Think of this as your guide to making your LinkedIn profile work for you in your job search. By understanding what recruiters want, you can tailor your profile to catch their eye. Let’s dive in and learn how to make your LinkedIn profile a magnet for job opportunities!


Table of Contents

LinkedIn’s Impact in Recruitment: A Recruitment Expert's Insights

As a recruiter and career coach, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact LinkedIn has had on the recruitment landscape. It’s fascinating how this platform has evolved from a mere digital rolodex into a critical hub for job seekers and recruiters alike.

In my experience, LinkedIn is not just another social media site; it’s a powerful professional tool. Here’s why it’s become such an indispensable asset in modern recruitment:

  1. A Global Talent Pool: LinkedIn offers access to a vast network of professionals across various industries worldwide. It’s like having a global talent pool at your fingertips. This extensive reach is invaluable, whether I’m sourcing candidates for niche roles or looking for diverse skill sets.
  2. Active Job Seekers: The platform is teeming with professionals actively seeking new opportunities. In fact, many if not most of the successful placements I’ve facilitated were with candidates who had optimised their LinkedIn profiles to reflect their career aspirations and skills, making them easily discoverable.
  3. Passive Candidate Engagement: Beyond active job seekers, LinkedIn allows me to tap into the passive candidate market. These are individuals who might not be actively looking for a new role but are open to the right opportunity. Engaging with these candidates can often lead to filling positions with top-tier talent.
  4. Insight into Candidate Potential: LinkedIn profiles offer more than just a CV. They provide a holistic view of a candidate’s professional journey, including their skills, endorsements, and even how they interact and contribute within their network. This level of insight is crucial in assessing a candidate’s fit for a role, both in terms of skill and company culture.
  5. Streamlined Recruitment Processes: The platform’s tools and features, like advanced search and InMail, streamline the recruitment process. I can quickly identify, assess, and reach out to potential candidates, making the process more efficient and effective.

LinkedIn has revolutionised how we approach recruitment. It’s not just a platform for finding jobs or candidates; it’s a comprehensive tool that allows for a deeper, more strategic approach to talent acquisition. Understanding how to leverage LinkedIn effectively can make a significant difference in your career journey, whether you’re on the hunt for new opportunities.

A recruiter in the office on the phone

Common LinkedIn Profile Mistakes

Drawing from my experience as a recruiter and career coach, I’ve seen many LinkedIn profiles that miss the mark. Avoiding these common mistakes can dramatically increase your chances of being noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. Here are some key pitfalls to avoid:

  1. Failing to Use Keywords Effectively: One of the most frequent mistakes is not optimizing the profile with relevant keywords. Recruiters often use specific search terms to find candidates. If your profile lacks these keywords, you may be invisible in their searches, even if you have the right skills and experience.
  2. Inactivity or Irrelevant Activity: A dormant profile, or one that doesn’t engage meaningfully with relevant content, can create an impression of disinterest or lack of industry involvement. Regular, relevant engagement shows that you’re active in your field and keeps you visible in the professional community.
  3. Not Showcasing Achievements: Many individuals shy away from highlighting their accomplishments. LinkedIn is not the place for modesty. Clearly and confidently showcase your achievements, as this is often what distinguishes you from other candidates.
  4. Incomplete Profiles: An incomplete LinkedIn profile can signal a lack of attention to detail or commitment. Ensure that all sections, including work experience, education, skills, and certifications, are fully filled out. A complete profile presents a more compelling and professional image.
  5. Lacking a Professional Photo and Banner: Your profile photo and background banner are your first visual impressions. A missing or unprofessional photo, or a default banner, can detract from your profile’s impact. Use a clear, professional photo and a banner that reflects your professional brand.
  6. Forgetting Recommendations and Endorsements: Recommendations and endorsements validate your skills and professional reputation. Not having them can weaken your profile’s strength. Actively seek endorsements for your skills and request recommendations from colleagues or managers.

By steering clear of these common mistakes, you can make your LinkedIn profile a powerful tool in your job search. A well-optimised, active, and professionally presented profile can significantly enhance your visibility and attractiveness to potential employers. In the next section, we’ll delve into understanding a recruiter’s approach to finding candidates on LinkedIn.

A busy recruiter on a tablet and laptop

The Recruiter’s Approach to Finding Candidates

In my role as a recruiter I’ve developed a deep understanding of how recruiters approach the task of finding the ideal candidate on LinkedIn. This process is both an art and a science, involving a blend of strategic searching, profile evaluation, and engagement. Here’s an insight into this process:

  1. Defining the Ideal Candidate: Before diving into LinkedIn’s talent pool, recruiters often start by defining the ideal candidate’s profile. This includes specifying the necessary skills, experience level, qualifications, and sometimes even personality traits that would best fit the role and the company culture.
  2. Utilising Advanced Search Tools: LinkedIn offers advanced search tools that are invaluable in a recruiter’s arsenal. We use filters such as industry, location, current company, past experience, and education to narrow down the candidate list. This is where your use of the right keywords in your profile becomes crucial.
  3. Keyword Searches: Recruiters often perform keyword searches to find candidates who have specific skills or experiences. This is why optimising your profile with relevant industry keywords and skill sets is essential. It increases your chances of appearing in these targeted searches.
  4. Evaluating Profiles for Fit: Once potential candidates are identified, the next step is a thorough evaluation of their LinkedIn profiles. We look for clear, concise career narratives, evidence of skills and accomplishments, and any endorsements or recommendations that support their expertise. This is where a well-crafted and comprehensive profile stands out.
  5. Engaging with Potential Candidates: After identifying promising candidates, recruiters reach out, typically via LinkedIn InMail. This is why it’s important to regularly check your LinkedIn messages and respond promptly, even if you’re not currently looking for new opportunities. Engagement can lead to unexpected opportunities.
  6. Monitoring Candidate Activity: Recruiters also observe candidates’ activity on LinkedIn. Regular updates, posts, and interactions in relevant industry groups can indicate a candidate’s passion and involvement in their field.
  7. Cultural Fit and Soft Skills: Beyond the hard skills and professional experience, recruiters are increasingly looking at a candidate’s soft skills and cultural fit. Your LinkedIn activities, the way you interact with others, and the content you share can provide insights into your soft skills and personality.

A recruiter’s approach on LinkedIn is multifaceted. We look for candidates who not only have the necessary skills and experience but also present themselves professionally and engage actively within their industry. By understanding this approach, you can better tailor your LinkedIn profile and activities to align with what recruiters are seeking.

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Keyword Optimisation: A Recruiter’s Perspective

The strategic use of keywords in a LinkedIn profile can significantly elevate a candidate’s visibility. Understanding how recruiters utilise keywords in their search process is crucial for anyone looking to enhance their chances of being discovered for the right opportunities. Here’s a closer look at this process:

  1. The Importance of Keywords: When searching for candidates, recruiters often use specific keywords related to the job’s required skills, qualifications, and industry terms. These keywords help in filtering the vast LinkedIn user base to find candidates who match specific job criteria.
  2. How Recruiters Search Using Keywords: We use a combination of LinkedIn’s search functionality and Boolean search techniques to refine our searches. This involves inputting specific keywords that are likely to be found in the profiles of ideal candidates. For instance, searching for “digital marketing manager” might be combined with specific skills like “SEO” or “Google Analytics.”
  3. Profile Sections Where Keywords Matter Most: While the entire profile is important, particular emphasis is placed on the headline, summary, and work experience sections. These areas are prime real estate for incorporating relevant keywords. For example, if you are a Marketing Director in the pharmaceutical industry, including terms like “product launch”, “market access”, “omnichannel”, “brand management”, and “compliance” in these sections can make your profile more discoverable.
  4. The Balance Between Quantity and Quality: It’s important not to overstuff your profile with keywords. Recruiters look for a natural flow of information that not only includes relevant keywords but also demonstrates your experience and accomplishments. The key is to integrate these terms seamlessly into your professional narrative.
  5. Staying Current with Industry Keywords: Industries evolve, and so does the language used to describe skills and roles within them. Keeping abreast of the latest trends and terminologies in your field and reflecting them in your profile can position you as a current and relevant candidate.
  6. Keywords in Recommendations and Endorsements: Endorsements and recommendations that include specific skills and keywords add another layer of credibility to your profile. When colleagues vouch for your skills using the same language that recruiters are searching for, it reinforces your expertise.

By understanding and applying these keyword optimisation strategies from a recruiter’s perspective, you can significantly increase the likelihood of your profile appearing in relevant search results. This approach not only boosts your visibility but also aligns your profile more closely with the types of roles you are interested in.

A professional working on their computer

The Importance of a Complete and Engaging Profile

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile can be the difference between being overlooked and landing your dream job. Here’s why it’s crucial:

  1. Telling Your Professional Story: A complete LinkedIn profile is like a narrative of your career journey. It should encompass all relevant aspects, including your educational background, work history, key skills, and any special certifications or achievements. This comprehensive storytelling allows recruiters like me to quickly understand your career trajectory and potential fit for a role.
  2. Highlighting Achievements: Whether you are in marketing, engineering, healthcare, or any other field, showcasing your accomplishments is vital. Your profile should not just list your roles but also highlight what you achieved in those positions. Did you drive growth, lead successful projects, or innovate solutions? These details catch a recruiter’s eye.
  3. Active Industry Engagement: Your engagement with your industry on LinkedIn reflects your passion and commitment. Sharing articles, participating in group discussions, and contributing original content can position you as a thought leader and an active professional in your field.
  4. Endorsements and Recommendations: Endorsements for skills and recommendations from colleagues or superiors add authenticity and depth to your profile. They provide social proof of your abilities and work ethic, which is invaluable from a recruiter’s perspective.
  5. Professional Visual Presentation: A professional profile photo and a relevant background banner set the tone for your profile. They should convey professionalism and align with your industry or role, creating a strong first visual impression.
  6. Compelling Summary Section: The summary is your opportunity to shine. It’s where you can articulate your professional identity, goals, and unique value proposition. A well-written summary can engage readers and encourage them to explore the rest of your profile in-depth.

Your LinkedIn profile is a platform to present your professional brand to the world. A complete and engaging profile not only increases your visibility to recruiters but also demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail.

A recruiter reading an application

Networking and Visibility on LinkedIn

In my years of experience as a recruiter, I’ve observed that effective networking and maintaining visibility on LinkedIn are key strategies for professionals seeking career advancement or new opportunities. Here’s how you can maximise these aspects:

  1. Building a Strategic Network: Your LinkedIn network should be more than just a collection of contacts. It’s about connecting with relevant professionals in your industry, including peers, mentors, and leaders. A well-curated network can provide valuable insights, job leads, and collaboration opportunities. Remember, it’s not just about the number of connections, but the quality and relevance of these connections to your career goals.
  2. Engaging with Your Network: Engagement is crucial on LinkedIn. Regularly interacting with your connections’ content, sharing industry-relevant articles, and posting thoughtful insights or updates can keep you visible in your network’s feeds. Engagement demonstrates your active participation in your field and can help keep you top of mind among your connections.
  3. Joining and Participating in Groups: LinkedIn groups are a goldmine for networking. Join groups relevant to your industry or professional interests and actively participate in discussions. These groups can be platforms for sharing knowledge, discussing industry trends, and connecting with like-minded professionals. They can also be a source of job postings or candidate searches that are not widely advertised.
  4. Leveraging LinkedIn Features for Networking: Utilise LinkedIn features such as recommendations, endorsements, and the “Give Kudos” feature. These not only enhance your profile but also encourage interaction with your connections, fostering stronger professional relationships.
  5. Consistency is Key: Consistently engaging on LinkedIn helps in building and maintaining your professional brand. Regular posts, comments, and shares keep your profile active and in the view of your network and potential recruiters.
  6. Visibility through Thought Leadership: Sharing your insights, experiences, and professional opinions can position you as a thought leader in your field. Writing articles or posts on LinkedIn about industry trends, challenges, or lessons from your professional journey can significantly increase your visibility and credibility.

The key to success on LinkedIn comes down to creating and nurturing professional relationships that align with your career aspirations. It’s a long-term investment that requires consistency, authenticity, and a strategic approach. By effectively networking and maintaining visibility, you can turn your LinkedIn profile into a dynamic tool that supports your professional growth and opens doors to new opportunities.

A recruiter calling a candidate

Maximizing Your LinkedIn Potential

Through my experience as a recruiter, I’ve shared insights into how recruiters use LinkedIn and how you, can optimise your presence on this platform.

Your LinkedIn profile is your digital footprint in the professional world. By following these strategies, you can transform your profile from a static CV to a dynamic, engaging narrative of your professional life. Whether you’re actively seeking new opportunities or just looking to grow your professional network, a well-optimised LinkedIn profile is your gateway to success.

The world of work is constantly evolving, and so should your approach to professional networking and career branding. Stay adaptable, keep learning, and continue to refine your presence on LinkedIn. Here’s to leveraging the full potential of LinkedIn in your professional journey!

A recruiter reading a CV

Final Thoughts

Now that you have gained insights into optimizing your LinkedIn profile and understanding the recruitment process from a recruiter’s perspective, it’s time to put this knowledge into action:

  1. Review and Revise Your Profile: Take a close look at your current LinkedIn profile. Apply the tips and strategies discussed to enhance its effectiveness.
  2. Engage Actively: Start engaging more actively with your network. Share your thoughts, comment on posts, and contribute to discussions to increase your visibility.
  3. Expand Your Network: Connect with professionals in your field, join relevant groups, and participate in conversations. Remember, the goal is to build meaningful relationships.
  4. Seek Feedback: Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback on your profile from trusted connections or mentors. Sometimes, an external perspective can provide valuable insights.
  5. Stay Informed and Adaptable: The professional world is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in your industry and be ready to adapt your LinkedIn strategy accordingly.

I encourage you to take these steps today to enhance your LinkedIn profile and networking strategy. If you have any questions, need guidance, or wish to share your success stories, feel free to reach out or leave a comment. Let’s continue this journey together towards achieving your professional goals.

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✔️ Attract more opportunities.

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Let's Work Together And Optimise Your Career

I have spent the last 10 years supporting companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to find and the best talent around the world.  

During this time, I have:

✔️ Scanned and reviewed more than 26000 CVs.

✔️ Conducted over 7000 interviews.

✔️ Secured new jobs and promotions in 20 countries across 3 continents.

For the past 5 years I have been developing best practices and solutions to help good people have great careers and have developed 3 Career Coaching Programmes suitable for all professionals. 

Are you interested in working with me?

Email me today.

Best of luck,

Dave Crumby

Your Career Optimiser | Certified Leadership and Management Consultant

🏆 Winner of Career Development Specialists of The Year 2023

🏆 Winner of Most Supportive Career Branding Service 2022

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