Your LinkedIn profile is the shop window to your professional life. With over 400 million members worldwide, it’s hard to imagine life as a job seeker or a recruiter without LinkedIn… it’s become a fundamental part of the recruitment industry.
That being said, senior executives still approach us looking for their next role without having optimised their LinkedIn profile to reflect their background, experience or achievements. Even if you aren’t actively looking for a job, LinkedIn is used extensively by recruiters to find talent for roles, so if you can see yourself changing jobs within the next 5 years it’s definitely worth taking the time to tweak it and maximise your visibility in the marketplace.
This is particularly true for interim managers, where your next opportunity can come entirely out of left field. A lot of recruitment companies and in-house recruiters pay to have LinkedIn’s enhanced search capabilities and as a result rely on LinkedIn to do a significant amount of their talent sourcing. Optimising your profile will increase the chances of being found for relevant roles.
So how should senior executives structure their LinkedIn profile to maximise their visibility and potential new job opportunities? I recorded a video where I talk you the key areas are of a profile and how you should best optimise them.
What we're going to give you our view on is what a good, solid, basic, best practice looks like, and I hope there are going to be some tips there that really help you drive your online presence and receive new opportunities.
Starting from the top then on the standard profile, under your name, you’ve obviously got the photo. Now again, LinkedIn should be viewed as a business tool, so we want the photo to be appropriate. It’s not Facebook. I still see lots of photos that are far too zoomed out. Limiting your photo to just a headshot makes your profile look more personal and professional. It doesn’t have to be incredibly formal, but should be something that you would associate with your business persona rather than your social persona.
Now, into the actual content of the LinkedIn profile. We need to think about this a bit because a LinkedIn profile is not your online CV. The aim of your LinkedIn profile is actually to have enough relevant keywords rich that you can easily be found for relevant roles by in house recruiters or agency recruiters. Rather than thinking of the content as you selling yourself, you need to flip that round and think about the content in the context of whether you have everything in there which would help you to be found, because that’s the most important thing.
It’s all about being found, and that actually starts with the statement and headline that appears underneath your name. A lot of people put things like, seasoned executive within FMCG, but again, probably nobody is going to actually search on that as a term. What would be better, for example is, FD, finance, financial planning, and more of the types of job titles that you want to be approached with. We tend to also differentiate these key words within that headline by using a separator, so just a straight line pipe or separator. Get as many keywords in there as you can, in terms of the types of things that potential hirers can search on to identify you.
We’ve got the connections piece at the top as well. I encourage you to try and build a significant online footprint. Generally, the more people you’re connected to, the more people that will be able to find you, so look for relevant mutual connections. Look for HR departments, look for search firms, and connect with as many of them as possible, so that you’re very easily findable.
Optimising Your LinkedIn Profile URL
A really nice little tip is underneath your name in the contact details area, there’s this URL on LinkedIn that is the URL for your personal LinkedIn profile. Now, what a lot of people don’t realise is, you can actually edit that URL. If you press edit and go into that URL, you can add a keyword, so if you are a FD in FMCG for example, you could have uklinkedin/financialdirectorfmcg123 or whatever is still available as a URL for your profile. Really good to lock that in because when people go to search, if you have relevant keywords in your LinkedIn Profile URL it really helps you fly up the search rankings.
Posts are something we’re very passionate about as well. I think it’s very important to have an online voice. As a senior executive, you’ve probably got a lot of knowledge that you share every day, but it’s good to get that out there as evidence of your competence, to drive traffic to your own shop window online, and enrich the LinkedIn site. Adding relevant keywords to those posts also increases your relevance and effects where you show up in the search algorithm.
Then we get into the real meat of the LinkedIn profile. Firstly we’ve got the summary box that should be like the personal profile that you might have on your CV but much more keyword rich. We want to be highlighting the skills you have, the industries you work in, the types of roles you can undertake, and any other relevant search type buzzwords that people will be able to find you with. Really think about that when you’re putting out the summary, because this needs to be as keyword rich as possible yet obviously still read like a human wrote it rather than a robot. When the search algorithm on LinkedIn is running, it goes to job titles first and then looks for other relevant keywords on your profile so make sure you’ve populated your summary box with lots of relevant information.
LinkedIn also gives you the ability to add videos, presentations, documents, and slide shares in the bottom of that summary box. So again include evidence of your own competences, interests, and technical skills, with documents and any other media you have to help things along.
The experience piece is more of a CV type area. You want to make sure that underneath each job title, you’ve got some text in there and make sure that text is also keyword rich and explains the type of roles you’ve done previously. You can have some achievements in there as well as obviously they are a very positive thing, but again, people aren’t going to search on “saved 20% of spend”. What they will search on is “procurement director” so it’s about having the right keywords throughout your profile to make sure you show up near the top of the results.
Recommendations are still very powerful particularly from senior people, so definitely get your referees, contacts and people who’ve worked for you, with you and alongside you to publicly recommend you.
Skills & Groups
At the bottom, you’ve got the skills area. Again, the more relevant skills you can get endorsed for, the better. These skills are keywords in themselves, so if you are a procurement director who has lots of keyword mentions of ‘Procurement’ in their profile, writes and publishes content on LinkedIn about procurement, ANS is endorsed by 99+ people for procurement then LinkedIn is going to think you are a very relevant person for a ‘Procurement Director’ search. We also have the groups’ area down here as well, so again join as many groups as you can and make sure you actively participate where you can. The other good thing about groups is, somebody searching can also find members of those same groups, and so by joining relevant groups, people who are hiring will be able to find you.
In summary, how you want to put your LinkedIn profile together to further complement the CV template that we spoke about is to focus on being found. You need to think about this in regards to the search engine on LinkedIn. You have to be found. It has to be keyword rich. First impressions count. Don’t underestimate the power of your profile. Very often, when a hiring manager receives a CV, one of the first things they do is type the name off of the CV straight into LinkedIn and look there first before they’ve even read the CV.
People are going to have a look at this and use it to make an impression quickly. You need to be able to get your message across. It needs to look impressive, so again, the photo and things like that are very important. Continuously build your social footprint, as important as your offline network, I would say, these days. Showcase your skills. Don’t be afraid to ask for endorsements and recommendations. Typically, senior people are very bad at asking for this, but it’s an important part of the process. If you’re serious about moving on and getting a new role, you need to do it.
Be really relevant and active. The more relevant you can be with your online activity, and the more active you can be, the more eyeballs will be coming to your profile to increase the number of opportunities that are ultimately coming your way. I hope that helped. If you have any questions, or wish to get in contact, please reach out to me either on LinkedIn, or via firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening.
In a previous EO masterclass we showed you how to create a senior executive CV that will get you noticed and bring you to the top of the pile. Download that CV template and ensure hiring managers notice you when flicking through CVs.