Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why You're Not Showing Up On LinkedIn Searches

In this post I'm going to cover the following:
  • How Recruiting Teams Search LinkedIn
  • What You're Doing WRONG
  • LinkedIn Glitch

How Recruiting Teams Search LinkedIn 

Professional search teams use boolean search strings to find candidates on the internet. Most people have first encountered it during a library course where we find books, or at least I did. That and the Dewey Decimal System were fast forgotten.

You don't have to be an expert in boolean strings. The 3 main things you want to know are:

Operators What They Do
''Phrases inside quotes'' Searches for the exact phrase. Capitalization does not matter.
''-'' The minus sign gets rid of any page/profile/resume with the keyword right after it.

Ex. -manager

Will get rid of profiles with manager on them.

Exceptions to LinkedIn profiles. Words inside of recommendations do not apply.
AND The AND operator will only show profiles if all the words are on the profile. Words do not have to right next to each other.

Ex. engineer AND Stanford AND doctorate

Will return search results with all 3 words. Most likely with engineers who graduated or works at Stanford with a Doctorate.

If a page does not have all 3 required words they will be excluded.

Most major search engines and job boards support boolean strings as they are a useful tool to narrow down search results.

In addition to boolean strings filtering systems provided by websites are often used. LinkedIn in particular has a very robust filtering system. One I found much more accurate than any job board's I used. They include:

  • Years of experience
  • Location by city or zip code radius
  • Current and/or past employers
  • How long you are in your current position
  • Highest level of education
  • Field of study for your degree
  • Industries that you have been a part of (determined by what your employers are listed under)
  • Advanced search engine

What You're Doing WRONG

I'm sure just reading the above section there are some changes you would like to make to your profile. Here are the most common mistakes I have seen profiles.

Categories What You Did Wrong
Years of experience
Many job boards let the user explicitly decide how many years of experience they have. They usually fill in a little box asking them this question. There is often confusion about this question. Whether they're asking for experience in total years you have been employed, specific industry, specific technology, or level of your current role (e.g. Specialist, Manager, or VP).

LinkedIn doesn't ask its user this question. It takes that information from 
the years of experience at each employment the user filled out. From my 
perspective this has been a much better filtering system than letting the user 
explicitly state it for the reasons listed above.

Here are some flaws in this system that users may not be 
aware of:
  • Listing a position simply as current role. LinkedIn will read this as 0 years of experience without a start date.
  • Listing all the roles you ever had. For example, you have been in a Mechanical Engineer now for 3 years. Many companies are looking for the 3-7 years of experience range so you should be a prime target of recruiters unless you made this error. You had decided to list those
    2 years as Pizza Delivery Driver, 3 years in your undergraduate internship, and 2 years in your graduate school all under the experience section. Now instead of being a prime target at 3 years of experience you set yourself up at a senior level target with 10 years of experience.
Detailed Profile
Here are the major fields that you should have filled out:
  • Location by city and state
  • Highest level of education completed (If you haven't completed it yet put the expected completion date.)
  • Employment details
  • If you are still employed put your start date to present. Don't put your end date as the day you are writing it. If people are looking at your profile years later they might think you have been unemployed and doing nothing since that time.
  • Correct and fully spelled out titles and technologies unless they are commonly abbreviated.
  • List all the technologies you feel comfortable with. Give more details about certain items/roles/technologies if you are comfortable with it being a primary responsibility. Examples like developing in Java, designing brakes and safety systems, or mergers and acquisitions.
  • Posting your resume. But if I have all my information on my profile why would I need to post a resume? LinkedIn profiles are formatted differently than what a recruiter is used to and if they download a PDF version of your profile LinkedIn will leave out certain sections of your profile. 
  • Contact information. You want to make contact as easy as possible. InMails can cost up to $10 each. Connecting with you might require your email to send a request. Finding out your contact information on the Google and other methods can be time consuming. If the goal is to be contacted then your profile should make it as easy as possible for people to contact you.
    • But I don't want to deal with SPAM!! An easy way to deal with a large number of people emailing or calling you is to use some of Google's free services. My two favorites are Google Voice for a separate phone number and Gmail which you can connect several accounts and smoothly switch between them. Use these new accounts and check them once a week without intruding on your primary contact info.
Too Much Information!
On the opposite end of the spectrum do not put:

  • Information about targeting a specific position. This isn't necessarily a bad thing to do, but I classify this more towards an active candidate sending in an application for a specific position. I see this on LinkedIn profiles and job board resumes a lot. A recruiter will make many assumptions based on your career progression by themselves. Adding a specific targeted job may exclude you from consideration because it tells recruiters you're interested in nothing else. For example, you're in an Analyst level position wanting to move up to a Manager level position. Two to three years pass and you find out you hate being a Manager, you loathe it from the deepest part of your being and want to return to the good old days of being an Analyst. In the past few years you could have been getting calls for Analyst positions, but your profile said you only wanted to be a Manager.
  • Detailed information about your family. We know, your kids are smart, bright, gifted even. Knowing how well little Timmy is doing at soccer practice will not help you get a job.
  • Horrible profile pictures. There are entire articles written about a professional profile picture. Most people don't care. You can be wearing a t-shirt, sunglasses, on the beach. That's fine with me, if you have the skills I'm looking for. On the other hand if you're the person with a lampshade on their head at a party… Having no profile picture is fine with me as well, but it will make your profile look inactive unless there was a recent update.
  • Over inflated titles and adding titles of high level superiors. This may exclude you from some searches. More information on this on the next section.
Search Engine

This has mainly to do the with ''-'' boolean operator to get rid of false positives. Here are where it usually excludes candidates:

  • Titles - Did you liaise or work with your VP, Manager, Project Manager, or CEO? People like to throw in big titles because they think big titles will catch the reader's attention. In this situation if I'm looking for an Analyst level candidate I will subtract titles like Manager right from the start.
  • Keyword: Recruiter - People might write how a recruiter should contact them, or that they don't want to be contacted by a recruiter. Either way it is a common title excluded from searches because Recruiters tend to list out all the positions they are hiring and/or hired for.
  • Technologies / Skill Sets - Are you a front-end web developer now, then you might want to get rid of instances of the word embedded or back-end. This is a similar case for Financial Analysts who deal with mergers and acquisitions; they should get rid of certain words like tax/taxes.
    • The key here is to do a search on LinkedIn or any job board for your position or target position. See what the results are and determine reoccurring keywords that is associated with results you don’t want. Then either modify or erase those words from your profile.
    • Tip: This might be the time to use abbreviations or the plural form of the keyword. I often take out the word manager because it’s associated with a title, but not managers.
Not Connecting With People!
Just posting a LinkedIn profile isn't enough. I have come across many profiles that are in the single digits of connections. People think that just because their information is on LinkedIn people will be able to find it. While this may be true your profile will be found much later than people's profiles that come up on search results easier and this means missing out on opportunities, like first round of interviews. 

So how does making a lot of connections help recruiters find me you might
ask. Well, LinkedIn has a free and paid version. 
For the free version the
search results will only show the 
first 100 results, with the closest 
connections showing at the top of the results. For instance, when I search for 
"Java Developer" my first 100 results are all 1st or 2nd degree connections. LinkedIn does give the option of searching by 3rd degree connections and 
beyond as well, but those profiles are going to have their information 
locked from me so I can't see if you're actually qualified (there are ways 
around this, but it becomes time consuming).

Now, if a person is lucky enough to have an employer, or if they themselves, 
invest in a paid recruiter account then the degree of connection won't 
matter as much, the searches are limited to 1,000 results. In this case the 
right keyword and keyword density will matter much more.

LinkedIn Glitch 

Video of glitch: 

There is currently a contact setting glitch. When you make any changes to your “Advice for Contacting” section you're message settings will all be turned off. This means you will not be able to receive InMails from LinkedIn Recruiter Accounts. You will have to go into your Account Setting to change them back.

This glitch is being reported to LinkedIn. In the meantime here's how to fix your settings.

To change these settings go to:

1. Privacy and Settings (move mouse over profile picture in top right)

2. Communications section on the bottom left

3. Select the types of messages you're willing to receive

I also like to add my contact info in the Summary section so it's right at the top of the page. 

Hope you found this guide useful!

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