How Recruiters Search Using LinkedIn & What We Look For

So much has been written on the importance of a complete and compelling LinkedIn profile.  I am currently working on two searches for which I am extensively using LinkedIn to source candidates. From what I have seen, one would think that LinkedIn is either a new or non-essential tool. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the last two weeks, I have looked at well over three hundred profiles on LinkedIn. Only one thought comes to mind and I hope I speak for most recruiters (internal and external) when I say, “What a major disappointment!” or “Now I understand exactly why so many candidates are in transition so much longer than necessary.”

I firmly believe that most profiles are viewed, and then passed over time and time again. Most  LinkedIn members who are looking for a position don’t even know how many times someone has reviewed their profile and never contacted them simply because their profile completely, “SUCKS.”

Profile after profile indicated “open to being contacted for career opportunities,” but the profile wouldn’t even include the person’s name!

If that isn’t  ridiculous enough,  my favorite examples are the ones that state in the headline, “Unemployed or Actively Seeking a New Position.”  One would think that since this person took the time to announce to the world that they are in transition, that they would at least upload their resume. But “NO.”   OK,  surely they will at least complete their profile so people reviewing it will know what they do?  Nope, why let recruiters and others searching for candidates have this information?

Give me a break,  do they expect me to engage them based on their picture? Are recruiters supposed to just know this information via osmosis?

Here is how I search for candidates on LinkedIn. I hope this will help you as well as help recruiters help you.

  1. I start out using the advanced search feature for people.
  2. I want to throw a wide net.  My goal is to be inclusive at this point, rather than to exclude someone.
  3. I usually start with just a few criteria. Generally, title, location (I use zip code and 50 mile radius), industry and function. That is it.
  4. There are exceptions to this but this is the starting point.
  5. I leave all other fields set to the  “All . . ” category in the drop down boxes. Meaning search all my groups, search in and out of my network, etc. I want a wide net.

Generally, hundreds of profiles appear. Now the search really begins, as does the frustration.

I begin scanning through the summaries of the profiles that appear. There is not a lot of information in the summary but enough to give the reader a good idea of whether it’s worth it to view the person’s full profile.

So often there is no need to even review a person’s profile. I can tell just from the summary that the information on the profile is either missing or completely worthless. For example, no picture, no name, no companies listed, vague titles, no contacts, background missing, no work history, etc. Yet, they want to be contacted for career opportunities.

Once I start looking at the profile, I usually decide in about 10-20 seconds if I should click out or read on.  So many profiles are so incomplete that I wonder why this person even took the time to post a profile. What exactly were they expecting when they posted this worthless profile?

I also look at the picture to see if it is professional or one that will embarrass me for referring the person if my client views it. That’s assuming there is a picture at all.

I then begin looking for the box checking stuff my client is requiring such as education, experience, current or past titles, years of experience, level, etc. You can read more about this in an article I wrote, “How Recruiters Read Resumes In 10 Seconds or Less.” Click here if you are interested.

I also look for recommendations and may read some. What are others saying about you? If nobody is willing to say anything good about you, it certainly isn’t a knock out, but I am curious about that.

I will also scroll down the profile summary and work history, and if a resume is uploaded I will review it. Rarely is a resume uploaded. Most of the time this is where it ends. The profile is so incomplete, the work history so brief, the description of work so worthless, that I can’t figure out what they were responsible for.  The profile has little or no company information, so I have no idea if their past companies were even in the right industry. Finally, the summary at the top is meaningless. Most don’t even include specialties.

I scroll to the very bottom and sure enough they want to be contacted regarding career opportunities. Some are even helpful at this point and will say, “Prefer to be contacted on my cell phone.” or  “Please use my personal email address.” Neither of which are included in the profile. Hey, I can’t make this stuff up.

GOODBYE. I have better things to do and a lot more people to consider.

This person probably just lost a great opportunity, or at the very least an opportunity to discuss a position. Even if they aren’t interested,  just knowing what is going on in their market is helpful. Just getting a feel for comparable compensation is a good data point for anyone to know.

The lunacy doesn’t end here. At least 50% of  these people are not working. Their work history will be 2007-2009.  What planet are they on? I’m sure they are frustrated, and complaining about how long they have been out of work and how bad the market is. This may be completely true, but they aren’t helping themselves with their profile.

If this search fails to produce viable candidates, I will go back and change the title or industry and try again. Not necessarily change the search, just some of the criteria. I’ll try to throw a wider net in a different part of LinkedIn’s membership.

Finally, I may eventually search by company name. If I know of a specific company that is right, I will search using the company name. That brings up all of the people that are currently working for this company or have in the past.

This is why your complete and compelling profile is so important on LinkedIn.  In today’s world, the search for candidates so often starts on LinkedIn. The sad part is, it also often ends there too.

Take away nothing else from this article but this one thing: In today’s market, companies (right or wrong) are looking for the kings and queens in their field, not the jack of all trades. If your profile doesn’t shout out loud and clear, “I’m an EXPERT,” you may be missing opportunities. Sadly, this happens and it is so easy to fix.

On March 26th we are having a webinar on how you can leverage LinkedIn to find your next job. We believe this is the most comprehensive webinar we have seen on this topic. We’ll have over 35 slides (we’ll give you all the slides) on how you can build a compelling and complete profile. We will show you step-by-step where the tools are and how you can use them to be the “EXPERT.” These slides and the audio recording of the webinar are included. If you want a profile that puts you in the top 10%, then you should CLICK HERE to learn more.

At a minimum you should download our 8-Level LinkedIn Self Assessment Profile. This tool is a great start towards building a great profile. CLICK HERE to get yours. It is 100% free.

Finally, if you are on LinkedIn, join our LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group. There are more than 4,800 members in the group. It is one of the fastest growing groups on LinkedIn that focuses on job search issues. CLICK HERE to join.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.

31 Comments

  • By Evan Crawford, March 22, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    Thanks for this great article. I know that because of the abundance of unemployed and available workers, Employers do want only exactly someone who fits in their criteria. Like it or not, it’s how things are right now. And your excellent article helps us to know how to handle this new reality. Thanks again. –evan

  • By Ron Cooley, March 23, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Brad,

    Excellent article. Very thought provoking! Thank you.

    Ron

  • By David, March 23, 2010 @ 11:40 am

    If you are using title as a primary key, you are missing the boat in many spaces. Take online marketing, it’s changing, people are learning skills in the wild and about how to realign organizations that aren’t even in the reality of the people often driving the company into the ground due to inability to change. People read entire resumes before vertical search engines took over and the decline of our society is accelerated by the focus on job titles.

  • By Rita Ashley, March 23, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

    Terrific words of wisdom. How about including outcomes in your summary? That’s what employers want to see. Not what you did, but the results. Make them linger on your profile, set the hook with results.

    LinkedIn frowns on including an email address, but do it anyway. At the end of your summary, include your public email address [hotmail or gmail] then check it constantly.

    Rita Ashley, Job Search Coach
    Author: Job Search Debugged
    Author: Networking Debugged

  • By Mary Lou Regan, March 24, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    As someone who falls into your “lunacy” category, lacking full time employment since late 2009, how disappointing and defeating to see this statement.

    As a job applicant and a career coach, the mantra is to fill the void with saleable volunteer activities or even part time/underemployment. Put a positive spin on circumstances over which you have little control.

    I understand you are speaking about what the LI profile advertises, but it also speaks to recruiter bias, in my opinion.

    Your statement would appear to reinforce the other mantra…network into an organization and avoid recruiters if possible (scary being said by an HR generalist).

    Again, just my opinion.

  • By Marjorie Campaigne, March 25, 2010 @ 5:20 am

    I’ve wondered the same thing about many profiles. I think many members just don’t realize the importance of giving all the pertinent information. Thanks for this article!

  • By Darlene, March 26, 2010 @ 8:26 am

    Hi, Brad. I’ve enjoyed reading your material and am bolstering my “expert” knowledge in using LinkedIn. Thanks for imparting such good stuff. I think the reason we see so many crappy profiles is that most job seekers are getting that they need to be on LinkedIn but they’re missing the why and the how to maximize that presence. Unfortunately, no matter how many resources (like your site and Jason Alba’s site), so many people don’t take an accountable role in finding out what they should know.
    Keep it up cuz I’m not done learning from you!
    Darlene Craven.
    P.S. I’ve actually added LinkedIn profiles to my services as a professional résumé writer because of how essential it’s become to have a LinkedIn presence that stands out.

  • By Pamela Higham, March 27, 2010 @ 9:44 am

    Good Afternoon Brad -

    Thank you for sharing all this excellent information.

    I have shared it with many of the Groups that I belong to on LinkedIn.

    Take Care,

    Pamela Higham
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelahigham
    http://www.visualcv.com/hlhnsb4
    C11TS@aol.com

  • By Barry Deutsch, March 27, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    Pam,

    Thanks for sharing the information from our blogs in the groups you belong to on LinkedIn. We appreciate your kind words and “help” in spreading our message.

    Barry

  • By Bob Radford, March 28, 2010 @ 8:33 am

    Thank you for your “How Recruiters Search Using LinkedIn & What We Look For”. It was clear, concise and alarming! I made notes and will be doing a review of my profile. It needs help!
    I’m active in 3 “Job Seekers Clubs” and will cite your article repeatedly. So many folks, even mid- and high-level technology management types, want to debate whether LinkedIn is helpful. One response, made more clear by your article, is “its not if you don’t make it so!”

  • By Richard Anwanakak, April 1, 2010 @ 4:11 am

    Goodday Sir,

    I wanted to join your LinkedIn Job Search Networking Group. It denied me access saying he group has reached its maximum number of members allowed. Could you please do help out?

  • By Mary A. Sentman, April 6, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    I enjoyed your Recruiters LinkedIn Search article. Being in transition it made me look at my profile to see if it shouts out “I am an expert”. Being new to LinkedIn I still need direction. Is there a way I can get a copy of the 3/26 webinar on Leverage The Power of LinkedIn? I would like to improve my job search.

    Thank you, Mary Sentman

  • By bradremillard, April 6, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    Mary:
    You can purchase the complete webinar including the slides and audio recording from our website. Just cut and paste this link into your browser. It is a download so you will receive immediately.
    http://www.impacthiringsolutions.com/index.php/standing-out-on-linkedin
    Hope this helps

  • By Hector R. Diaz, April 9, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    Good article Brad!
    You might be interested in reading an article I posted on my Blog about using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to optimize LinkedIn profiles:

    http://hdiaz.org/Blog/?p=66

    Your comments are welcome.

    Hector Diaz

  • By Kathy Lawrence, April 11, 2010 @ 9:19 am

    I read this article and reviewed your profile. I couldn’t find a telephone number for you or an e-mail address. Can you tell me why your Summary is written in 3rd person? I couldn’t find your resume. I was told not to go back more than 15 years on a resume yet your linkedin profile goes back to 1979. Can you tell me why you went back that far – or am I getting bad advice?

  • By Michael Edward Kohlman, April 13, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

    Great Post Brad and So True:

    As someone who has been in the process of adding additional positions to my Team over the last few months, I continue to be surprised at the quality levels (or lack of) that I find when doing candidate research on LinkedIn. These days I have so many good candidates applying that I don’t really have the time or interest to decipher what someone might be trying to tell a perspective employer. But at the same time I wonder how many good candidates are missing out on good opportunities simply because their LinkedIn Page looks like the only time and investment effort it received was 30 minutes of casually typed information done with a laptop while on the couch watching TV. People need to realize that if they are going to take the time to create a Public Career Page, then they need to be aware that it IS their most visible branding to those that may be able to offer them employment.

    - MEK

  • By Barry Deutsch, April 14, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

    Kathy, you can find a contact form on our website.

    Our profiles on LinkedIn are not resumes – brad and I are not looking for a position. Our profiles are written in a press release-personal branding statement format.

    The number of years to go back is subjective. People will figure out all your experience in the course of an interview – why hide it? If you’ve got some early experience that is not appropriate and you’ve got 20 years of appropriate experience after that date – then you might consider leaving the early stuff off your resume.

    Deciding what to leave on/off the resume should be done on a case by case basis.

    Barry

  • By Vincenzo, April 16, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

    Hello Mr. Remillard:

    I just want to tell you thank you! Your suggested article does have a lot of meaning, and good points, about recruiting on LinkedIn. However, I disagree on one thing, which could be disturbing to many. Yet! I, personally, did not take your comment to be offensive, but want to correct you, as I have done politely with others. And since you had your saying, I would like to say mine, if you don’t mind, please.
    Over the years, I’ve had to deal with BA and MBA, personnel, by the way, I only have an AS degree. Have over 35 trainings and more than 20 years of experience, lots of talent, lots of potential and other general skills. During my career, I have dealt with high levels of personnel, as you have described; only to correct them, because they lacked the experience. No offense, please. But experience always beats someone who just came out of college with a BA or MBA degree, in most cases. Sorry! And I know for fact that many get demoted or even fired!
    Also, an HR or a hiring manager, should not only look on education, depending on what field, but also, on its potential, experience, and trainings; something that most HR on not being trained on and are not doing today. They are only being trained as a generalist. Which I don’t agree, and here is why.
    One article states, “You don’t have to go to college to be a success. Even if you go for awhile, you don’t have to graduate to be a success. Here are just a few of the people who have become famous and/or successful without graduating from college and/or high school and had integrity and POTENTIAL. So here are the names: Dennis Albaugh, Bill Gates, Mukesh “Micky” Jagtiani, Dean Kamen, David Oreck, Phillip Ruffin, Ty Warner, Richard Branson, Maverick Carter, John Paul DeJoria, Michael Dell, Felix Dennis, Barry Diller and Paul Allen, Woody Allen, Julie Andrews, Jennifer Aniston, Brooke Astor, Tom Anderson, Walter Anderson, S. Daniel Abraham, Roman Abramovich, Andre Agassi, Dennis Albaugh.” Here is the source: http://www.collegedropoutshalloffame.com/
    Need more? Just go on GOOGLE and type famous people (CEO, Actors, and etc..), without a degree.
    I, also, look at it this way. I could only think and compare all of these institutions, whom are training all recruiters (HR generalist, thru no fault of your own, let’s be clear of that), to a famous criminal person. These institutions are training HR to find only, and only the most perfect candidate, in their industry. Isn’t that right, Mr. Remillard?
    Without even looking it’s potential and other important things. Well, that’s what HITLER wanted, the perfect CANDIDATE or RACE, he did bother to look at anything else. I know that sounds terrible, but millions of people who have lost their jobs, have been loyal, and have been dedicated, are now classified as uneducated and uncommunicative. What a shame!
    Perhaps and may be to prove my point, try to start a discussion, such as, “If you had to hire, speaking in general, which would you prefer in your industry (or whatever industry), a candidate who has no experience, but holds a MBA or a BA degree or someone who has, numerous trainings with more than 10 years of experience? And, see what kind of feedback, results, or response you’ll receive? But go to a neutral place (NETWORK), to do this, not the HR Network.
    Maybe, and you can do what you want, it is a free country last time I checked; you should amend your article, and apologize to the rest of the World how offensive your article could have been to some. Especially to those who have no BA or MBA degree. Some could not afford to go to college, but have potential, integrity, loyalty, are dedicated and committed. But you really don’t have to, just learn from it. Just live and learn.
    By the way, sorry for my grammar, remember I only have an AS degree, with no specific field, just could not continue or afford to get my BA; no grants for me or loans. Had to provide for my family, too. Again, don’t take it personal. Hope you’ll do the right thing now. In anticipation, thank you for being understanding, Sir!

  • By Daryl, April 17, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

    I think most of us are avoiding recruiters on LinkedIn. It’s our one belief that NETWORKING is what we’re using it for, and DATA MINING is what recruiters are interested in. I think this clear difference is best explained by way of analogy: recruiters see themselves as the ones who pick the winning numbers on a lottery ticket, while we are simply the lottery ticket buyer; the belief is you can’t win if you don’t play. We’re well aware of the fact that fewer than 10% of jobs are found through recruiters, while 75% and over are the result of skilled networking. The clear message in the article was quite well stated, and I quote: “GOODBYE. I have better things to do and a lot more people to consider”. Pretty “in your face”, and pretty much explains the distinct difference between how recruiters view LinkedIn’s purpose, vs how job candidates view it. We get lots of contacts from recruiters with jobs, but no interest in our network. Unfortunately, LinkedIn has become loaded with such recruiters, many of whom have this arrogant approach to job seekers, and they are more and more frustrated because we are too busy networking to make our profiles perfect for their one winning lottery draw.

  • By Spiro, April 18, 2010 @ 9:23 am

    I did everything from the beginning. Now what? Should I knock on neighbors doors asking for work? Should I ask everyone I encounter for a job? What are the limits of “networking?”

  • By bradremillard, April 19, 2010 @ 8:32 am

    Spiro
    Yes and no to your question. Read the other articles we have posted on networking. Like everything there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. Most candidate do it the wrong and that is why it doesn’t work.

  • By Oh Please, May 14, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

    This seems like a pretty lazy and inefficient way to find people. Of course people put ‘interested in career opportunities’ – it’s a default setting, and why would people take it off?
    Does it really surprise you that people don’t want to post their entire resume on their profile? That’s something an entry level person would do, and most entry level people are not sitting around waitinf for someone to come across their linked in profile.

    I think that people are starting to realize that if you’ve achieved any level of success, you’re probably better off withoiut a linked in profile. It’s not the worst tool, but it’s a false sense of networking, and I’m tired of judgemental recruiters who enjoy dismissing people a little too much. On the other hand, you seem to have found your niche.

  • By Geri, June 23, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

    Posting a resume online with complete contact information is a recipe for identity theft. I would actually pass on someone who was so careless as to do so, as they might be careless with my business information, too.

  • By Tom Siko, June 26, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

    Brad,

    How many Americans have been out of work between 2007 and now? You seem to be quite judgemental of people who are out of work. You seem to intimate that they are not employable because they are out of work. Why don’t you reach out to those people and try to help them find jobs since you are the “king” in your field?

  • By bradremillard, June 30, 2010 @ 8:14 am

    Tom;

    I am not at all judgmental of those out of work. Bad things happen to great people.

    Regarding your comment reaching out to those out of work, you are way off base. No other recruiting firm on this planet offers more free information, tools and resources than we do. Our website is loaded with FREE audio files, over 200 free articles, free downloads, free templates, just to name a few. No one else offers all this for free. No one.

    You shouldn’t be so judgmental until you at least do your research. We don’t have to do this for free. We are in business just like companies you work for. Do they offer their products or services for FREE.

    We do this to help those out of work and in-transition.
    Brad

  • By J Fred Muggs, July 25, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    Let’s face it squarely folks!

    The recruiting/hiring/sourcing process and industry (if you can call it one …) is broken!

    When Corporate America relies on such nonsense to fill job vacancies, one shouldn’t be surprised that a recession is in [the] US!

    Some of the best new-hires don’t use social media simply because their industry doesn’t!

    Others don’t use social media simply because they have real people to network!

    Still others can’t use social media for fear of being fired!

    In the soup-de-jour world of recruitment, wait a few minutes and another shiny object will come along to distract the masses …

    To the rather arrogant behavior of the poster, thanks for the warning!

  • By bayne, August 25, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    Thanks for article.

    I had long ago forgotten that I had checked ‘interested in career opportunities’ when I filled out initial profile.

    I have recommended people but have never asked for a recommendation. I generally take a request for a recommendation as an indicator someone is looking for a job and will write if warranted but will also send link to known job openings if I think they will be a good fit.

  • By Russ Knight, October 11, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    THANK YOU!

    Brad, this is great information and great perspective! I lead a job search ministry at my church and was re-writing my LinkedIn 101 presentation. I have made several changes thanks to this good information.

  • By Kris L. Canaday, December 21, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    Hi Brad,

    Good article. I just joined the LinkedIn Group and came to your blog post as a result. Many experienced paralegals and many more inexperienced paralegals have sought long and hard for employment. I regularly provide advice and suggestions, so it’s good to receive information from many sources.

    I was pleased to see I passed all the points you made in your article, but I still wonder how a recruiter would perceive my profile . . .

    Kind regards,

    ~Kris Canaday

  • By Trudi - Optician, August 8, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

    I found this very helpful. I am just starting to use social media to recruit and it is confusing.

  • By Anna, September 16, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

    Well, I have a newsflash for you: maybe it’s you who should change your approach to scouting people over the internet. People on LinkedIn already have a job they’re comfortable in, no matter how dull it might be so at the end of the day, if you decide to be a lazy recruiter, to dig a little deeper and I don’t know maybe use some flair, too bad for you!!!
    A few reasons why people don’t put their whole names on LinkedIn:
    - in this new era of identity theft, dear Sir, people counterfeit other people’s resumes
    - why would someone be stupid enough to lay everything out on the Internet when as soon as the newspaper inform the world of your shortcomings, the first internet stops are Facebook and LinkedIn?

    Real proactive recruiters see your LinkedIn profile and send you an invitation to connect (that’s the way you get people’s personal email address) through a common group or connection. They don’t write a so-called informative rant about how people who don’t need them are clueless about looking enticing to them.

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