What LinkedIn Profiles Should Look Like in 2018

How do you find top talent? It can’t be through application tracking systems alone, which means you need to leverage LinkedIn to search actively for people who don’t desperately need a new job.

What should you look for in 2018? That’s exactly what we’re covering here.

Open to Recruiters

Every LinkedIn user can change a setting that says “I’m open to being contacted by recruiters.” That’s the first thing to look for when evaluating any candidate, as it creates formal opportunities for you to reach out with offers over InMail.

Reaching out over InMail is direct, giving you an inroad to candidates that display ads simply don’t provide as consistently.

Being open to recruiters lets you filter out people who aren’t necessarily interested, narrowing your search to professionals who are both interested and qualified for the role you want to fill.

Concise Summaries

The next thing you should notice about qualified candidates is how they describe themselves in their summary section, which comes up in search results on LinkedIn.

The summary is often set to some default sentence fragment about holding a position at a particular company, but that’s not the best way to learn what a candidate offers to you, as an employer, much less what drives them.

Look for candidates who express an interest in growth, delivering high-quality results for their own sake, and a clear value proposition.

Summaries are also a place for candidates to use keywords related to the positions they hold (or want), so keep an eye out for phrases repeated just a little too often. It may tip you off that the person is conducting a stealth job search.

Those are the people who want to talk to you.

Combining Niches with Experience

Finding candidates with a lot of experience is great, and so is finding one who covers a niche relevant to your business.

However, the candidates who will really stand out are the ones who can communicate both of those things to you from their profiles.

Don’t just search for people to fill a General Counsel role with five years of experience. Instead, search for people who have the experience you need and also fill a particular niche, like “general counsel for the insurance space.”

That kind of candidate will bring insights and best practices to the table that others simply cannot.

Readily Available Portfolio or Project List

Aside from the reality of non-disclosure agreements, LinkedIn profiles in 2018 should contain portfolios of accomplishments and ongoing projects—not just a list of routine tasks.

Providing a portfolio website is excellent as well, but look for relevant portfolio items under the “Projects” section of the candidate’s profile. This can include salaried work, pro bono efforts, and personal projects that add a flair of personality or creativity.

Clear Educational Qualifications

Not everyone lists their educational qualifications on LinkedIn, yet it’s a key indicator of competence in a given field and for a capacity to learn the details of your business (and the position in question).

The world has moved on from championing self-taught professionals with only a high school diploma because the competition in professional fields has driven the standards higher.

The best candidates won’t just have their college degrees listed, but their industry certifications as well. Keep an eye out for these in particular, as they indicate the candidate’s drive to learn and grow.

Insightful and Recent Activity

It should go without saying that everyone should conduct themselves professionally on LinkedIn, especially since just about everyone has become familiar with it in 2018.

Having said that, it is not uncommon for people to post heavy, personal, or edgy narratives and comments to market themselves.

This may work for entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and Gary Vaynerchuk, but you don’t want a visible employee or company leader being tied to an inflammatory past comment on LinkedIn. This shouldn’t disqualify any candidates immediately, but—if the candidate looks promising—dig a little deeper to rule out poor online interactions.

Screen their activities for any red flags, of course, but also pay attention to how candidates contribute to discussion. Do they politely offer alternative perspectives, or do they crash the gate with overconfidence and bravado?

Recommendations and Skill Endorsements

LinkedIn’s endorsement system isn’t perfect, but it can certainly give you an idea of how candidates’ connections perceive them.

Those with excessive skill endorsements almost certainly asked for them. Few people go out of their way to endorse skills, but it’s far better than seeing candidates who have no endorsements at all.

Recommendations work the same way, and they can count for more. Look for personal recommendations that connect the candidate’s work ethic and personality to their methodology and quality of work.

For example, a recommendation that says “John was efficient and showed up on time” may have been force-fitted, but something that says, “Alex’s mentorship raised the bar for the whole team” is probably more genuine.

Red Flags

Last but not least is a list of red flags that warrant closer investigation, if you notice any.

  • Unprofessional Photos: they indicate someone won’t behave in the office.
  • Crude Language: this could indicate that the candidate can’t speak to others politely.
  • Unrealistic Titles: 23-year-olds with a “director” status could indicate a self-made title instead of an earned one.
  • Interests and Affiliations: make sure that the influencers and brands that candidates follow don’t stand in stark opposition to the values and culture of your organization.
  • Keyword Stuffing: phrases and words repeated excessively indicate that a candidate may be trying to manipulate LinkedIn’s search algorithm to compensate for something.

One of these items might not disqualify a candidate from the running, but flag the account in your LinkedIn search process—none of these are acceptable practices for 2018.

Consult this guide to find your top talent on the world’s largest professional networking platform, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. Start the conversation with the Career Path Group today to find your ideal candidate tomorrow.

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