Updated September 4, 2022
How to make your tech LinkedIn profile stand out
Companies have officially gone to war over tech talent. The demand for qualified professionals is high and the recruiting paradigm has shifted - recruiters no longer have the simple task of posting open vacancies and waiting for applications to start pouring in. They have to fight harder now.
In this article we will go through the different steps on how to take advantage of LinkedIn, the go-to social network for professionals and how to stand out among their 756 million users. We will explore the different sections of a LinkedIn profile, and go through the best-kept secrets and strategies recruiters follow when “fishing” for talent.
So glad you’re here, let’s start.
1) Companies have officially started battling for tech talent
2) LinkedIn - the force is strong with this one
3) Enough is enough - how you can stop neglecting your LinkedIn profile
4) Leveling up your profile
5) Intro section & Photo/ Background
6) About section
7) Professional experiences
8) Skills, endorsements, and recommendations
9) Building your network
10) Personal connections
11) LinkedIn groups
Companies have officially started battling for tech talent
The tech job market is becoming increasingly competitive over the last few years, and the tendency is that it will grow even more. This is not bad news for tech professionals, though! New, innovative, highly technological startups are emerging every day and competing for tech talent with the big players like FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) or Fortune 500 companies.
Tech recruiters are also becoming more specialised than ever in the tech industry, being forced to keep up with the latest tools, software, programming languages, etc. Particularly in highly-competitive startups, engineering teams are also becoming more demanding and pushing recruiters to get the best tech professionals. This means that hiring teams need to be more strategic and can no longer afford to only rely on standard, good-old applications. They need to go where the passive candidates (highly-skilled professionals that do not need to actively apply to jobs) are. And where are they? Other than Github or Stack Overflow, LinkedIn is one of the places where recruiters are actively on the hunt.
I know, the game is changing. Tech professionals hold the stakes now - which means that you can be the solution a recruiter is desperately needing to find.
Following up on this, let’s deep dive into what matters to tech recruiters when visiting your profile, what can make you stand out over the crowd and get them to contact you.
LinkedIn - the force is strong with this one
It doesn’t matter in what stage of your career you’re in right now, LinkedIn will for sure help you get where you want to go. From internships, entry-level or graduate jobs, passing by people who are looking for a career or industry change, to the ones that are looking for leadership roles, LinkedIn is the place to be.
Most of all, LinkedIn is a powerful search engine and you can leverage it to get you that job you have been dreaming of. However, I would advise you not to take your approach to LinkedIn too seriously. At the end of the day, it is still a social network. A professional one, sure, but your activity there should not only always make sense to you but also be true to who you are as a person. Always keep in mind that LinkedIn should not be used as an information dump, as a detailed record of our lives. LinkedIn gives you the advantage to show the value you bring to the table, in a dynamic way. Think of your profile on this platform as an opportunity to bring your CV to life with an added twist.
As I mentioned above, recruiters and their teams are increasingly moving to LinkedIn in order to engage with passive candidates, and prefer this platform rather than the traditional CV format. Why? Information on LinkedIn is dynamic and easily updated when needed It tells the whole picture - not only do they get to see more information about your professional path, but, if done correctly, LinkedIn profiles are able to capture a bit of your personality, and that is crucial. People connect with people, not pieces of paper. Recruiters know the structure of LinkedIn profiles, which helps to read them faster. This gives a boost to your chances because, on the other side of the spectrum, recruiters generally spend ~7 seconds of their attention on a CV. I know, ouch! Linkedin facilitates this by organizing the information in a recognizable pattern, while on a CV they have to spend time looking for where is what. A lot of ATS (Application Tracking Systems) - which a lot of people believe to be enemies, when in reality, they are just a tool - already incorporate a field in the application form that lets you paste your profile’s link - no need to attach any CV, or worst, make you single handedly input every small detail about you. Goodbye redundancy and hello good candidate experience - simple and easy!
Enough is enough - how to stop neglecting your LinkedIn profile
Now that you are possibly convinced that your LinkedIn profile probably needs some work, we can start with the basics on how to make it stand out.
Rule number 1, one you should always have in mind, is that up-to-date information is the key to success on LinkedIn.
This tip will help with the step-by-step approach we will now take when it comes to the most crucial sections of a profile.
Leveling up your profile
LinkedIn profiles are organized into blocks of sections that guide the reader smoothly over someone’s background.
Intro section & Photo/ Background
This is the section where you can let your personality show. Go for visuals that mean something for you. For a profile picture, choose a welcoming photo of your face that you feel speaks the most about your personality. Keep it professional though, you don’t need to have a black-tie attire, but make sure that you’re comfortable when thinking about future employers or co-workers seeing it.
Your title in this section can be your professional title, or the role you now have, but not necessarily! This is one of the first things a recruiter will see, so try to give them enough compelling information to make sure they click and open your profile.
As an example, there are a lot of Frontend Developers listed on LinkedIn. For Tokyo alone, LinkedIn shows 1300 different people!
Do any of these sound different from one another? Is there a particular profile you would click on?
Nothing really stands out, right?
What about something like this?
Don’t you feel like you know a little bit more about them? Their preferences, what programming languages they have experience with…
For a tech profile, this is the type of information you can have displayed in your title, to make sure recruiters do not skip over your profile.
Let’s take a look at Eric’s profile, as it illustrates quite well how these tips can be implemented effectively:
Instead of only letting his visitors know his job title, he chose to incorporate valuable information that sets him apart from so many other Software Developers.
✓ Software Developer at Mercari | Ruby, Vue.js, Go, K8s | Tech Evangelist
✗ Junior Software Developer at Mercari
By doing this, even before visiting his profile, a recruiter will have more knowledge about his professional interests and preferences. Even from the pictures he is using, can’t we figure out a bit about his personality as well?
Recruiter’s tip: See how Eric omitted the word “junior”? If you are in the same situation - a junior role - and would like to apply to mid-level jobs, it might be worth doing the same. No recruiter will know your professional path better than you, so if you feel you are ready for such a position, own it!
Something very important as well is the location you choose. Just like in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. If you want to work in a particular city but don’t live there yet, that is totally ok! Recruiters use location as a filter, and the first place they research is the city where the company is located. Make sure you are not missing out on this information.
This is the first section visitors read after clicking on your profile. Use it to say hello to your visitors and welcome new connections. Different people are in different stages of their careers. State the things you are looking for. A managerial position? A career or field change? An industry change? Making friends and getting to know like-minded people? A specific role? Here is your chance to state it! What makes you unique? What are your professional interests? What are your work values? Give your visitors a chance to relate to you on a personal level.
Pro tip: why not stating a fun fact about you?
In 2021, everyone will tell you that you need to focus on keywords and incorporate as many as you can on your profile. This approach will, unfortunately, get you nowhere. What do I mean by this: By adding too many keywords to your profile you will end up showing up in researches that have nothing to do with your preferences. Also it will make your profile look confusing - we do not want that. If keywords are the only content you add to the descriptions of your job experiences, you are not getting far enough. Add detailed responsibilities, state what you were hired to do, what projects you worked on (leaving out any confidential information). And the most important: show your results. Add a few victories and back them by numbers. Did you build a system that helped increase the team’s productivity by 30%? That’s great - why isn’t it on your profile?
Here’s an example:
LinkedIn is definitely not the place to be modest. I will even allow you to brag a bit about yourself and your results here. If you’re not the one showing your successes, nobody will. Recruiter’s tip: collect successes, victories, kudos and save them in a folder in your computer called “YAY Me”. Sometimes we forget all of our achievements, and we definitely shouldn’t! Also, pondering about these can also help you prepare for upcoming interviews.
OK, OK. What if you don’t know what keywords are or, for the life of you, you cannot get a few illustrative sentences together about your past or current roles? No worries! There are a few ways you can do this. Start by looking for profiles of people with a role similar to yours (either from your company or not) - how are their descriptions? Get inspired. Your job description - what did it highlight as your responsibilities? Look for job postings for a role similar to yours - what is stated under “Requirements”? If you’re looking for a change - dress for the job you want! Metaphorically, of course. Use LinkedIn to research a few jobs you would like to apply to: what are their requirements in terms of programming languages, software, tools? Do you have them as well? Put them on your profile! Adapt to the role you want to pursue.
Let’s see an example:
Skills, endorsements, and recommendations
Something a lot of people are afraid of - asking for a favor. Sometimes we’re afraid of bothering other people or that they would never reply. But, you have to try. Reach out to past or current co-workers, managers, team mates: give them and ask for a recommendation or an endorsement. Trust me, deep down, people like to help.
Final notes on this section...
Don’t forget to keep your information updated! Leave nothing behind! Did you finish a new course? Add it! Were you a speaker at an event in your field? Add it! Did you learn a new language or skill? Own it! Remember: even if you have all the right keywords, recruiters will have no regret discarding your profile, if it has completely empty sections, or confusing or contradicting information.
So now, with a new set of tricks under your belt, we can dive into…
Building your network
As I stated above, at the end of the day, LinkedIn is a social network. This basically means that it wants you to make personal connections with people you might have something in common with - and it will reward you for it.
You can bring this principle to your advantage when working on expanding your network.
Start by checking the companies you admire or would like to work for. If you have no idea where to start, you might want to take a look at JapanDev’s curated list of tech companies.
Let’s look at a few tips and best practices when building your LinkedIn network. Let’s assume you are a Frontend Developer looking for a role in an innovative company, where you can have a bigger impact on the development process and decisions.
- Make a list of companies you admire and/or would like to work for - they will have a LinkedIn profile.
Add recruiters from these companies. In general, recruiters will also be looking to broaden their network and accept new connections.
Add professionals that have the same job you would like to have, or that are doing things you would like to evolve into in the future. Have conversations with people that are in the field/ industry/ company/ role you would like to step into.
Add potential decision-makers from these companies: CEO’s, CTO’s, Tech Leads, VPs of Technology, Heads of Engineering. These are normally the kind of people that make hiring decisions - why not try to reach out and impress them as well?
Join groups from your area or field of expertise - and participate in the conversations happening there! These groups also have a big chance of showing you job openings that are still not public. Internal employees are often rewarded if they refer someone that ends up getting hired. A lot of the time, they post these opportunities in relevant groups, where they know they will have a high chance of finding someone. And hey, recruiters are normally there as well ;)
Now that you are equipped with the tools that make your LinkedIn profile stand out….
… Repeat and keep on building!
Keep in mind that even if you’re happily employed, your profile can still work for you while you sleep and attract tech recruiters. New startups in need of experts and highly qualified tech professionals are being born everyday. What I mean by this is: don’t think of LinkedIn only when you’re looking for a job. If you are open to hearing about new opportunities, have conversations with recruiters. This is a great way to see how the tech job market is evolving. Conversations you may have with hiring professionals can also provide you with good insights and data to back up conversations you should be having with your company and managers. Careers are not a short-time plan. What you’re doing today, will need to make sense in 10, 15 years. Who do you want to be then? Start now! Getting your dream job should be exciting! Enjoy the process, you can do it!
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