Recruiters are often called "headhunters" because they constantly seek out passive job candidates for their highly selective corporate clients. LinkedIn has become the prime hunting ground recruiters frequent because it's target rich in quality people who are there for purposes other than getting a new job.
By understanding the methods recruiters utilize in their hunt, you can position yourself as the talented passive candidate they covet rather than a desperate job seeker who craves their attention.
Here are four tactics recruiters use on LinkedIn and how you can take advantage of them:
1. Recruiters look for people who use the same vocabulary as their clients. The easiest way to do this is by conducting extensive keyword searches on LinkedIn profiles.
Tip: Utilize the same keywords you would expect to see in relevant job postings in the narrative you build about yourself. Weave them into the Summary and Experience sections of your profile, rather then presenting them grouped together. Today's sophisticated searching technologies make bunching keywords together in a long list or paragraph obsolete.
2. Recruiters hunt for people who command the respect of their peers and supervisors. One way they do this is to search LinkedIn recommendations for a specific mention of skills, activities, and accomplishments. They especially like it when your supervisor relates how you have gone above and beyond what was expected, or how you have contributed to your company's bottom line.
Tip: Get people who know your work to recommend you, and make it easy for them to do so. For example, you might say, "Dear ABC, could you write a recommendation for me that talks about how long we've known each other, when we worked together, and my involvement in the XYZ project?" Explain to your reference writer what facets of the nature, quality, and results of your work you would like highlighted. Shun generalized messages that really say nothing, such as, "So-and-so is a great person who works hard and will be successful at any job!"
3. Recruiters seek experts and thought leaders. You can find them in LinkedIn's skill-based and industry-based groups and monitor the discussions. They observe silently who asks intelligent questions about cutting-edge issues and who provides concise, well thought-out answers.
Tip: By joining and participating in these kinds of groups, you can demonstrate that you are up to date with the latest and greatest in your field, even if you're currently not working. Keep your posts on point and professional, because once online they never disappear completely. Don't post excessively, but be a clear and helpful presence in your key groups. As your discussion contributions accumulate, you will build your credibility, increase the value of your personal brand, and bolster the likelihood of being found.
4. Recruiters scout for people wherever they can find them. They take advantage of the ability to join up to 50 groups at any one time to access a large universe of people. They search in all kinds of groups. For example, a creative recruiter who had a Boston-area software company as a client conducted a search for a person with a difficult-to-find skill set. And he found that person outside Boston, but with an affinity for the city: the candidate was a baseball fan living in the Midwest who happened to be in LinkedIn's Red Sox Nation group.
Tip: Create a mix of groups for yourself, including some in each of these categories: professional and skill-based; college/grad school alumni; geographic groups (i.e. Greater Boston Networking); job-hunter groups; or general interest, such as Starbucks enthusiasts, dog lovers, or sports team fans.
There are many other strategies you can successfully employ, but these four provide the basis to create a solid LinkedIn presence. Remember that just as LinkedIn is a place to find and connect with people, it's also a place where you can be found. If you're that passive candidate with the right stuff in the eyes of the recruiter, you will shoot to the top of the must call list.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.