Did you know that 70 percent of the global workforce is comprised of passive candidates — people who aren’t actively looking for a new position? Moreover, employers find passive candidates desirable because they’ve already proven their value to other organizations. This means that executive recruiters for some of the top organizations are actively screening LinkedIn executive profiles looking for candidates. That’s why so it’s critical that your LinkedIn profile not only contain the basic career information, but also reflect who you are as a professional and a leader. Keep the following points in mind:
- Include a professional headshot. Avoid casual photos taken at the office or on vacation, as they simply don’t convey the level of professionalism recruiters are looking for. Recent updates to LinkedIn allow you to create your own background for your profile photograph. If you’re not design-savvy, you can use Canva to create a LinkedIn background from a template. Note that your photo will be displayed on the bottom left of your background. You also have the option to record a 30-second video intro using your cell phone. This option is not recommended unless you have written out, rehearsed what you plan to say, and are dressed professionally. Make sure there is good lighting on your face and avoid distracting backgrounds.
- Make sure your contact details are current and complete. At the very least, you should provide an email address. It’s even better if you share your phone number.
- An eye-catching headline. Aside from your photo, this is the first thing that viewers see when going to your profile. You have up to 120 characters to convey what you do and specifically what you offer potential employers. This headline appears every time you engage on LinkedIn. Be specific. List your hard skills and job titles, using keywords for the position you want. You can also include hashtags, however, choose the hashtags that are relevant and the ones that have the most followers. Note: You can also now add a short audio introduction. To use this feature from your cell phone, select the pencil icon to edit your profile. Where it asks you for your name pronunciation, you can record a 10-second intro. We recommend saying hello then telling people what you do, and ask them to connect.
- A well-written summary. This section is highly recommended so take the time to include it in your profile. It should be concise and written in a voice that corresponds with your personal brand. It should highlight the main value you bring to your current role; plus, it’s advisable to add some personal details. Write this section for the position you want and use keywords commonly found in job descriptions of the jobs you’re seeking. Some key elements to include are the depth of your experience, your areas of expertise with tangible examples, your unique superpower, accomplishments, and accolades. Make sure you say why you’re passionate about your work and then end the summary with a call to action. Review your summary every six months to see if anything needs adjusting or updating.
- A description of your current employer and role. An executive recruiter will not only want to know what industry you work in, but also what type of company you work at. Give a brief description of your employer, mentioning things like the company’s mission, its history, number of employees and locations. You should also provide information about your current role, including your full job title and most important responsibilities.
- Your employment history since graduation. Typically, recruiters focus on senior-level positions. However, if you’ve made a lateral career move at some point in time, you can provide a brief reason why, for example to gain international experience or to learn more about a new technology. Keep in mind, though, that if you prefer to explain a lateral move in person, it’s perfectly acceptable, too. It’s a good idea to add keywords here too. This is a great place to add keywords. A way to bypass LinkedIn’s formatting, type one hyphen followed by the greater than sign on your keyboard to form an arrow to use as a bullet.
- Evidence of your value to your employers. As an executive, you have to be able to quantify your value. If you spearheaded a project that resulted in $175,000 of savings from avoided cost overruns in the first six months alone, say so. Similarly, if you were responsible for the development of IP that generated significant revenue for the company, list that on your profile.
- Honors and awards. Make note of any honors and awards you’ve received, such as industry or innovation-related awards.
- Your academic history. You should list all of your degrees, as well as the educational institutions you attended; top-tier universities are highly regarded. You’re not required to include dates so if it highlights your age, don’t add them.
- Any extracurricular leadership positions. Ideally, this would include roles both during your academic career — such as president of the honors society — and afterwards, for example as board member of a local cultural institution.
- Solid recommendations. When it comes to recommendations, it’s more about quality than quantity. It’s best if they’re written by former supervisors, as well as people with significant influence in your field who possess the authority to speak to your abilities.
- Frequently updated content. To demonstrate that you’re an active thought leader, you should highlight your own papers, presentations, videos, interviews, articles, and blog posts.
Knowing what recruiters expect from your LinkedIn executive profile can be an important first step in landing your next position. But more than that, it can also be the beginning of a career-defining relationship with an executive recruiter who knows what you’re looking for and who’ll do his or her best to help you get it.
By Bryan Kirby, Vice President and Executive Recruiter with Kirby Partners Healthcare and Cybersecurity Executive Search. Get in touch with Bryan.