How to Attract Employers’ Attention on LinkedIn

December 2, 2010

I recently learned that a whopping 60 percent of the Fortune 100 use LinkedIn to save time and hire the best candidates. This means that recruiters from these organizations -- some of the largest and most respected companies in the world -- are engaging with LinkedIn every day to find and vet job candidates.

If you’re looking for a job right now, then you’re probably wondering, “How do I get these top corporate recruiters (and others) to find me while they’re searching on LinkedIn?”

Here are some tips that will help you reach recruiters and stand out from the crowd:

  • Include relevant keywords in your LinkedIn profile. One of the most common ways that recruiters and hiring managers search for job candidates is by entering relevant keywords into LinkedIn’s search engine. In order to show up in these searches, your profile has to contain the right keywords for the position you want.

To find these magic words, research the profiles of people who have the job you want as well as the job listings for the positions you desire. What words show up the most frequently in both places? These are probably some of the keywords recruiters are using.

For example, if you are interested in a job selling advertising for websites, look at the LinkedIn profiles of people who have job titles such as “online advertising manager” or “director of interactive sales.” Then, find the words that appear commonly in these profiles, such as “digital ad sales,” “online advertising,” “new media” or “web sales.”

Smart job seekers then sprinkle these words throughout their own profiles (assuming they accurately reflect your skills and experience, of course). Good places to include keywords in your LinkedIn profile are in your profile title, the Summary section, the Specialties area and throughout the descriptions beneath each position you list in your Experience section.

  • Join and engage in industry groups. In addition to performing keyword searches, many recruiters tell me that they spend a lot of time lurking in group discussions on LinkedIn. They join the most active and influential groups in their industry and look for people who stand out in these groups as knowledgeable leaders and contributors.

To find out which groups would be best for you to join and engage in, again check out the profiles of people you admire in your industry and see what groups those people belong to. And, of course, look at the profiles of recruiters at the companies where you’d like to work and see what groups they belong to. Then apply to join these groups and, if you are accepted (some groups require particular credentials but many are open), jump in and post discussion topics, share and comment on relevant industry articles and provide advice or guidance to people who post questions.  Don’t go overboard here -- no need to comment on every single discussion in every group you belong to -- but focus your efforts by writing perhaps one or two well-thought-out posts a week responding to group discussions that relate to your area of expertise.

And, of course, keep a special eye out for any employees of the companies you want to work for and try to engage in discussions in which they are participating. You never know when someone might take notice of your brilliance!

  • Connect with employees (past or present) of your dream employer. A recruiter I know once told me that he always has two stacks of resumes on his desk: one really tall stack of resumes he receives from job listing websites, job fairs and cold emails, and one short little stack of resumes he receives from people he knows and trusts -- his company’s employees, his own personal and professional network, his fellow college alumni and members of the professional associations he belongs to. Of course you want to be in that smaller, more exclusive stack.

This means that one of the best thing you can do as a job seeker is to find personal connections to a company, and LinkedIn is the perfect place to do this. Go to the LinkedIn Company page of any organization you want to work for and see if you’re connected to anyone who currently works there or has worked there in the past. You may not even realize that you have a direct connection to your dream employer.

If you discover this is the case, reach out to your connection, as long as it’s someone you are truly acquainted with -- ideally a first degree connection or a second connection with whom you share a close contact, and write a polite and concise LinkedIn message asking that person if he or she would be willing to share some advice on landing a job at that organization.

Once you’ve taken this advice, you might also go back and ask that helpful contact to personally pass along your resume or application to the right person in HR. There are no guarantees when it comes to asking people for help on LinkedIn, but I’ve found that people will generally respond well to a request that is gracious and comes from a friend or a friend-of-a-trusted-friend. Some companies even compensate their employees for bringing in new hires, so you might be helping yourself and your contact.

Have you found other ways to attract the attention of recruiters on LinkedIn? If so, please share in the Comments!