3 hacks to make your profile POP for recruiters

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Do you ever wonder why you aren’t getting contacted more often by recruiters? As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn connects employers with a huge amount of potential applicants. This doesn’t happen, however, if your profile doesn’t populate when recruiters conduct searches.


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Recruiters begin their searches for qualified candidates with 3 categories: job title, location and skills. They refine their searches with additional criteria, such as education, but all searches begin with these three categories. If you don’t populate in this initial search, you may miss out on an incredible opportunity.

Here are 3 Hacks that will ensure your profile populates in a recruiter search:

(I learned this by taking the Certified LinkedIn Recruiter Training at: https://certification.linkedin.com/

1. Job Title

Recruiters conduct key-word searches for specific job titles to narrow down the field of potential candidates. If your profile doesn’t have the job title listed, it won’t populate in their search.

HACK: Your LinkedIn headline (what shows up under your name on your profile) doesn’t have to be about your current job, how artistic you are, or that you are looking for work. It needs to clearly state the positions for which you are looking and are qualified. Since you have up to 120 characters, it could have a couple job titles separated by a comma or |. You should add something that makes it stand out, something about your passion, but need to include the job titles. Here is a basic example:

Network and Team Builder | IT Project Manager | Program Manager

Don’t get caught up in bubbles, colors, or strange characters. The above headline example would ensure your profile populates in a wide range of project or program management-related jobs. If you have these terms listed elsewhere in your profile, it will help strengthen your results.

VETERAN HACK #1: To the best of my knowledge, no recruiters are searching for transitioning, senior leader, retiring, Command Sergeant Major, or any other military term. Don’t put your availability date in the headline, as this may turn off recruiters before they even contact you. Focus on the civilian job titles and careers that you are interested in pursuing when you complete your term of military service and include them in your headline.

VETERAN HACK #2: Translate all of your job titles in the Experience section of your LinkedIn profile to their equivalent civilian positions. Keep the military organization listed as the employer and explain your military title in the summary. This will ensure your profile populates in the searches, but you won’t be misleading recruiters because they will clearly see your military service.

2. Location

The second thing recruiters are prompted to input when identifying candidates on LinkedIn is a location. Think about it: don’t you do this when searching for jobs? Accordingly, their initial search results will include all the profiles that reside in that particular location. They may expand their search criteria at a later point, but with the size of the LinkedIn network they may find several suitable candidate(s) out of their initial search.

HACK: Go to your LinkedIn profile page and click on the pencil icon to edit your Intro. If you input your location via a zip code, click once on the “Locations within this area” block. This will begin a drop-down box that clearly identifies on what location searches your profile will populate.

If you want to work somewhere else, make sure to list that area on your Intro. If you live outside a large metropolitan area, take the time to list the location where the majority of your potential jobs exist. A little research on your part will greatly enhance your job prospects. Your current employment locations (in the Experience section) will tell recruiters where you currently are located.

VETERAN HACK: When you transition, chances are that you will move somewhere else. You should list your post-transition location on your Intro. If you are open to relocation to several areas, figure out where the bulk of the job opportunities are in your chosen field. Just keep in mind that a potential job may or may not pay for relocation expenses. If it is the first one for you post-transition, that shouldn’t be an issue as the government owes you one relocation.

3. Skills

When you apply for an interesting job, it is incredibly important to ensure you have the required qualifications. Since this is the case, doesn’t it make sense that the necessary skills are the third item recruiters are prompted to select when building a search query? The skills necessary to qualify for a position are incredibly important criteria when narrowing down an incredibly large pool of potential candidates.

HACK: Review several desirable job listings in your chosen field. Jot down the key skills that populate in these job descriptions and add them to the list of “Skills” on your profile. Since you may have up to 50 skills, be thorough and ensure you get every permutation of a particular skill set. Don’t be afraid to delete unnecessary skills that you have but are irrelevant to your future job searches.

VETERAN HACK: Unless you are planning to apply for a mercenary, security or VIP protection mission in hostile areas, the military-related jargon in your skills are wasted opportunities. There are many skills that simply do not translate to the corporate world, and federal jobs aren’t checking LinkedIn. So get rid of military words like tactics, weapon handling, Afghanistan, and command. Take the time to review your desired fields and add the skills that are aligned with your desired career choice. It may hurt to remove the 99+ endorsements you have for command, but I can assure you that not many recruiters are conducting searches where command is a required qualification.

Michael Quinn is a former Case Officer that decided to give up a “movie-worthy” career in order to become a leader and INSPIRE others to do more. His previous articles include: What in the World is a Sergeant Major, Veterans: How To Find A Job When You Transition, How This One Question Helps Build a Team, 3 Ways Executive Leaders Build a Team, Hunt the Good Stuff to Reduce Stress, and Why Motivation vs Inspiration Arguments are Just Plain Wrong!

This article first appeared on Linkedin