Listed below is a Top 20 “hot list” of the things I look for in the LinkedIn profiles of senior executives and technologists that I recruit. And I am not alone. Over more than a decade of recruiting for the most powerful companies in technology and media, colleagues in retained search and in corporate recruiting have told me they look for many of the same details. In fact, one Fortune 100 client counted among the “Best Companies to Work for” uses the same criteria as a hard filter to separate the contenders from those who are not.

The Quest for Top Talent

While every industry has its high-profile VIPs, the best and brightest are not so easy to find. Often, the usual suspects turn out to be empty suits or executives that have lost their mojo.  That’s where I come in. A former investigative-journalist-turned-investigative-recruiter, I look for clues to locate and calibrate top talent. In doing so, I seek off-radar luminaries and up-and-coming stars who may not be as adept at self-promotion. Frequently, gifted technologists become so engrossed in inventing the Next Big Thing that they operate in perpetual stealth mode.

However, common sense would suggest if you want to get ahead, it shouldn’t require detective work to discover you. If you have worked hard to become the best, it makes little sense to undermine your own success with a neglected and outdated LinkedIn profile.  Worse, you can do real harm to your chances of advancement with a LinkedIn profile that is so haphazardly slapped together that it is riddled with typographical errors and topped off with a photo that more resembles a Nick Nolte mug shot.

Conversely, even if your LinkedIn profile is pretty polished and complete, you should double-check to make sure you haven’t left out something important.  For instance, you may not think your high GPA and academic honors are worth mentioning on LinkedIn — in fact, you may find it a tad obnoxious to overtly tout achievements in so public a place.  However, your ideal next employer may quietly exclude you from consideration if you fail to list those very

achievements in on LinkedIn.

Krista Bradford Photo Medium

Three Kinds of Critical Information to Include

Our Top  20 Things into three main categories of LinkedIn data:

  1. Easy ways to find you and reach you
  2. Sufficient and current career detail
  3. Evidence that suggests you are a top performer

So grab a cup of coffee, pull up your LinkedIn profile, and then step through the punch list below to see if there is anything you’ve overlooked and then, if needed, pop in a detail or two.. It takes but a  minute, but  the effect is lasting. It functions as your virtual publicist and agent round-the-clock. Moreover, the benefit extends beyond impressing executive search consultants and prospective employers. It raises your profile and stature in your current role — so that good things come your way.

Top 20 Things Headhunters Want to See in Your LinkedIn Profile

  1. A public profile so we can find you
  2. A polished profile photo
  3. Evidence you like to network: OpenLink Network or 100+ connections
  4. Ways to reach you: shared phone, email, social links with 1st connections
  5. Summary that includes corporate biography and specialties
  6. Up-to-date  title, employer, and location.
  7. Previous jobs since graduation with full job titles
  8. Month and year for job start and end dates
  9. Descriptions detailing job responsibilities and accomplishments
  10. Accurate industry
  11. Education detail of college and degree obtained
  12. Evidence of academic achievement, such as high GPA or graduating with honors
  13. Extracurricular leadership roles, such as intramural sports, fraternity, or sorority
  14. Video, such as a keynote address, that give us a sense of how you “present”
  15. Honors and awards that set you apart as a top performer
  16. Patents that created valuable intellectual property for your employer
  17. Volunteer work or other giving back that speaks to your character
  18. A consistent track record of success with pattern of increasingly senior titles and greater responsibility with each successive job
  19. Recommendations from former direct superiors that speak to the quality of your work
  20. A network filled with respected colleagues, luminaries, and VIPs


A question for the reader: What would and would not be on your top 20 list of must-haves for LinkedIn profiles?

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