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How To Catch Recruiters' Eyes On LinkedIn

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You're an IT professional looking for the next best position. Or maybe you just want to test your worth in the market. You've heard that social networking is an important tool when looking for a new position, and that recruiters often use social networks to seek out new talent. You know that LinkedIn is the most professional of social networks, so you polish up your profile (or set one up if you didn't have one already) and wait to be discovered.

[Insert sound of crickets chirping here.]

What's the problem? You've got all the right experience and qualifications. You have the certifications that are hot right now. But still, nothing.

You may have all the right stuff, but if you present it in the wrong way, you won't catch recruiters' eyes.

Surprisingly, one of the things that many people are missing, say experts, is a complete LinkedIn profile.

[ There are lots of ways to take advantage of LinkedIn. Here are 10 LinkedIn Tips for IT Pros

"Complete LinkedIn profiles utilizing all key sections increase your odds of being found in a recruiter searches," said Tony Deblauwe, the founder of HR4Change, an information and services resource for individual and business productivity.

Not only should your profile be complete, but it should be optimized for search. Recruiters search on keywords when looking for candidates, and it's important to know the terms that are hot in your industry and specific areas of expertise so that you can include those terms in your profile.

Laurence Stybel, executive in residence for Management and Entrepreneurship at Suffolk University, recommends that IT professionals review job postings in their "sweet spot" to determine the words and terms that keep coming up.

"Review 10 jobs in your sweet spot, disregarding geography," said Stybel. "What keywords keep coming up over and over? The words may be technical, like 'web2' or 'cloud.' They may be organizational, like 'team player,' 'innovative,' or 'director.' Where appropriate, make sure keywords are woven in your LinkedIn profile. Use the words as often as you can in headlines and in the text."

Another way to determine the most effective keywords is through the use of Google Trends. This free tool allows users to compare interest in different topics. You can enter up to five topics to see how often they have been searched on Google over time. You can also use the tool to determine whether, say, "SaaS expertise" is better to include in your profile than "cloud experience" based on the way in which the terms are being searched on.

Of course, optimizing your profile for recruiters is more than just throwing in the right search terms. That may get them to your profile, but it won't keep them there if that's all you've got.

"The key is showing progression in new technology trends," said Deblauwe. "For instance, cloud, social media, and mobile technologies are very hot, and showing experience in these areas or participating in technology forums demonstrates personal interest. Using keywords and short summaries of projects worked on is still essential for technology recruiters, so be sure that your project summaries or duties overview show progression in capabilities."

Deblauwe said it's also important to fully leverage LinkedIn's many features, such as Groups and References, to position yourself as an expert in your field.

"Outside of the basic searches on title, company, and important keywords, recruiters need to dig deeper to get to top candidates," said Deblauwe. "For example, they look at recommendations and references that provide insight into what the person was doing or responsible for. Another way to further connect the dots is through contributions to groups and question and answer posts that could provide insight into duties, interests or knowledge areas. Exploring how someone uses the various features of LinkedIn can transform a basic search into a more valuable way to secure a talent short list."

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