What Headhunters Look For in LinkedIn Profiles
Listed below is a Top 20 “hot list” of the things that headhunters look for in the LinkedIn profiles of senior executives and technologists for their corporate clients. In fact, one Fortune 100 client counted among the “Best Companies to Work for” uses the same criteria as a hard filter to determine who will move forward as a candidate and who will be eliminated from consideration.
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 who have lost their mojo. That’s where headhunters 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. Many do not hang out on LinkedIn.
If you want to get ahead, it shouldn’t require detective work for a recruiter to discover you. In fact, it makes little sense to undermine your own success with a neglected and outdated LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile that is haphazardly slapped together and riddled with typographical errors can do real damage to your career. When you top off your LinkedIn profile with an unprofessional profile photo, you shut down opportunities that would have come your way. That’s why executive makeovers that enable you to put your best foot forward are so empowering.
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 on LinkedIn.
Three Kinds of Critical Information to Include
Our Top 20 Things into three main categories of LinkedIn data:
- Easy ways to find you and reach you
- Sufficient and current career detail
- 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 LinkedIn Profiles
- A public profile so we can find you
- A polished profile photo
- Evidence you like to network: OpenLink Network or 100+ connections
- Ways to reach you: shared phone, email, social links with 1st connections
- A summary that includes corporate biography and specialties
- Up-to-date title, employer, and location.
- Previous jobs since graduation with full job titles
- Month and year for job start and end dates
- Descriptions detailing job responsibilities and accomplishments
- Accurate industry
- Education detail of college and degree obtained
- Evidence of academic achievement, such as a high GPA or graduating with honors
- Extracurricular leadership roles, such as intramural sports, fraternity, or sorority
- Video, such as a keynote address, that gives us a sense of how you “present”
- Honors and awards that set you apart as a top performer
- Patents that created valuable intellectual property for your employer
- Volunteer work or other giving back that speaks to your character
- A consistent track record of success with a pattern of increasingly senior titles and greater responsibility with each successive job
- Recommendations from former direct superiors that speak to the quality of your work
- A network filled with respected colleagues, luminaries, and VIPs
Remember, in The Hero’s Journey that you call your career, you’re the hero. You can do this! For more on sprucing up your LinkedIn profile, check out LinkedIn’s tips. For more career advice, check out our career advice blog posts.